As we get back into the swing of things in regards to game action, there's Toronto Blue Jays news from down on the farm that should interest fans.
The talented 21-year-old infielder has been tearing the cover off the ball this season, as expected, with 17 home runs in 239 at-bats. His power has never been in doubt, with one of the most prolific power tools in the minors. More importantly, Martinez has worked hard to improve his approach at the plate.
Last season he jumped onto the radar when he mashed 30 homers as a 20-year-old in Double-A New Hampshire, setting a new club record for Fisher Cats. Unfortunately, the excitement was tempered because of his paltry .203 batting average and .286 on-base percentage. Those kinds of numbers raise red flags.
Luckily for the Blue Jays, Martinez was open to improving as a hitter and worked on pitch recognition and swing decisions, as reported by Davidi.
"I can hit 30 homers with a decent average and be in more situations to hit the ball more, than just having 30 homers with a really low average," Martinez told Davidi in a recent interview. "I'm always open to receiving feedback and getting better."
Gotten better, he has.
After a slow first month, during which the young slugger hit .089 with a 24.4 percent strikeout rate, he has taken off over the last two months. In 47 games since May 10, Martinez is hitting .301 with an impressive 1.034 OPS and has 13 home runs, nine doubles and 31 RBI.
Davidi references Martinez's strikeout and walk rates, which may be the most encouraging part of his improvement.
Last season he struck out at a 28.5 percent clip while walking at 8.1 percent of the time. This season, he has closed the gap with a 19.8 strikeout rate and 14.2 percent walk rate. Since May 10, he has improved those numbers even more, dropping his strikeout rate to 17.7 percent while walking at almost the same rate of 16.7 percent.
A move to Triple-A will be a good test for Martinez's new approach, but it doesn't sound like he has finished improving as a hitter.
"I'm not going to focus on hitting the ball really far because I know I have that already," he told Davidi. "I'm just trying to improve myself in a contact way. The swing decisions come with the approach that I have right now."
The Blue Jays are undoubtedly hoping the changes stick. Matt Chapman will hit free agency after this season, so the team may look to the farm for a cheap replacement. With Martinez splitting time between shortstop and third base again this year, he and his prototypical corner infield power bat would be an obvious candidate to take over the hot corner.