BLUF: Nice player with good effort, some speed and pop, and potential for defensive versatility.
The Player: Jason Martinson (SS, Washington Nationals) – The Nationals fifth round pick in 2010 out of Texas State, Martinson hit .241/.346/.344 in his debut with Vermont that summer. In 2011 he improved across the board during a promotion to Low-A Hagerstown, finishing with a .252 average, 22 doubles, 19 home runs and 26 steals. After starting the 2012 season back in Low-A where he hit .272 in 69 games, Martinson was promoted to High-A Potomac where he posted a .215/.279/.409 line in 66 games.
Basis of Report: Compilation – Personal Observation (NYPL 2010), Industry Contacts
Body (6-1, 190): Lean and athletic body with good strength. Doesn’t stand out. Classic middle-infield frame. Good coordination and plus athleticism. Former football wide receiver in college.
Hit: Balanced stance and swing. Doesn’t try to do too much in the box and has quieted some noise in his trigger that existed when he signed. Solid plate coverage and above-average bat speed. Struggles recognizing spin and will chase breaking balls out of the zone both low and away. Can get tied up by good velo. Likes the ball up and will chase elevated heat. Below-average hit utility projection. Plenty of strikeouts with some walks thanks to willingness to grind at-bats. .250 hitter at best. Grade – 30/30
Power: Generates natural pop with solid bat speed and good strength in his forearms and wrists. Shows some loft in his swing at times, both good and bad. Can sell out for power and lead to more swing and miss. Natural gap power and fringy home-run power could be in his future if he stays within himself. Swing-and-miss tendencies could easily hamper maturation of power in game situations. Potential 20 double, 10-15 home run output at peak. Grade (raw power) – 40/40
Arm: Arm strength is suitable for the left side of the infield. Can make throws from deep at third and has zip when he’s on the move. Shows velocity and carry to make throws from third base as well. Above-average to plus grades are consistent, and I’ve seen enough really strong throws to hedge toward the higher end. Grade – 60/60
Fielding: Has athleticism to handle SS. Actions don’t come naturally and he can get out of sync and make plays more difficult at times. Has enough chops to play the position periodically. Moves well at 3B and athleticism plays there, but he’s very raw. Chance to play 2B as well, though footwork would take a while to learn. Fringy defender at nearly every stop but has versatility that helps his profile. Grade – 40/40
Speed: Solid runner. Max effort type that gets the most out of his speed, even though home-to-first times are consistently around average. Very good instincts on the bases and is a threat to steal 10-15 bases a year. Grade – 50/50
Summation: Hard-nosed player that gets the most out of his tools. Bat has some juice but that comes with serious swing-and miss. Very unlikely to hit enough for the rest of the offensive game to have full game utility. Likely .240-.250 hitter at best. Has doubles power and some over-the-fence pop as well. Speed can play on the bases with 10-15 steals and extra bases with aggressive running. Needs to stay within himself more at the plate, but high-effort style of play makes that difficult. Swing and miss will always be a serious issue. Not a true shortstop but can get by at the position if needed. Profiles a little better at third base, but very raw. Footwork is rough at both positions. Arm can play anywhere on the dirt. Has versatility, hard-nosed style and pop in his bat. Utility profile.
Relative Risk: High. Swing-and-miss could hamper any offensive potential he has and ceiling is limited to begin with.
Future: Martinson still has work to do against High-A pitching and will likely need the bulk of the 2013 season back at Potomac to try and get his offensive game in order. He could move to Double-A late in the year and spend much of 2014 at the same level. If he continues to show pop, some speed and versatility, he could sneak onto the big league radar as a utility option during the 2015 season.