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Should J.D. Martinez Be Promoted?

This question has been raised a lot over at TCB lately. Lexington outfielder J.D. Martinez has been doing nasty things to the baseball down in the South Atlantic League. Things that can get you locked up in Utah. He's second in the league in home runs and first in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, doubles, and RBI.

At 22 years old, he's one of the older prospects in the 16-team league. Many fans have been pushing for a promotion for Martinez, since he obviously doesn't need the practice at hitting baseballs out of the tiny parks down there. They say that he should be pushed to the Double-A Texas League to play with Koby Clemens, J.B. Shuck and the rest of the gang. They say he doesn't need time at that band box in Lancaster, since we already know what he can do with a bat. If he went to the California League, he might rip another hole in the ozone layer with one of his home runs. I agree, but I also don't for two main reasons.

Zach Levine over at the Chronicle has reported in the past that Martinez will spend the entire season at Lexington before moving up to Corpus Christi in 2011. That's mainly so he can work on his defense. See, the reason Martinez slipped to the 20th round of the 2009 draft is that he doesn't have a good defensive position right now. He can't physically play first base, because of chronic arthritis in his knees. The constant bending on the infield would cause it to flare up too much. So, it's either left field, where he played in college,  or right, where the Astros are trying to push him. The thinking is that keeping him in Lexington will allow him to learn in a low pressure environment.

The other reason I agree with the decision is that he's only got 389 plate appearances at Lexington. That's getting to be enough for a firm sample size, but it's still less than a full season. We can't know if his numbers are legitimate or not, at least not yet. Why not give him a little more time in Lexington to finish out the season and work on his defense? When he makes the jump to Corpus, he'll still be one of the younger players in the Texas League.

Don't get me wrong, I want to see him pushed and succeed. His bat is good enough that he could make an impact on the big league roster as soon as Carlos Lee gets a new zip code. If he were a minor leaguer in my WhatifSports dynasty, he'd be promoted for sure. But, I don't run the Astros, so I'm at the mercy of their logic. In this case, I can see where they're coming from.

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.