Martinez is the #2 ranked prospect in the Blue Jays system according to MLB Pipeline. He split time between shortstop and third base in Double-A and then made the majority of his appearances at second base in Triple-A. The righty has embraced the challenge of adding versatility all over the infield to his repertoire.
"Once I signed here I knew I had to be able to be able to play different positions. Honestly, every day, with the early work I’ve been doing I feel more comfortable. But like anything, it’s an adjustment."- Orelvis Martinez to Herd Chronicles
Martinez is a good athlete who is strong without being overly bulky. He moves fairly well on the dirt, his range and mobility is below average for a middle infielder but more than enough at third base. He possesses good arm strength which enables him to make all of the throws required of a shortstop or third baseman. He was signed and developed as a shortstop but he will not play there in the major leagues. He lacks the range, the internal clock and instincts, and the polished mechanics that are required for big league shortstops.
As a second baseman, he has plenty of time to make decisions and go through his movements which allows him to slow down his internal clock. Even though second base is considerably easier than shortstop, it can still be an adjustment learning a new position. It's expected that Martinez will continue to improve at making just the routine plays as he gets more comfortable at second base. In the below clip, it seems like he has more time than he knows what to do with and makes an uncomfortable looking throw.
There are also occasions where the added time was all the difference for him. In the next clip, Martinez makes a good read, a smooth transfer, and a strong and accurate on the run throw. All of these actions would need to be sped up on the left side of the diamond but at second base this is a picture perfect rep to get a quick runner.
As useful as the extra time is at second base, range is still of high emphasis like shortstop. Martinez often gets good breaks on the ball but lacks the agility and straight line speed to get to tough groundballs. Here's an example.
This is a difficult play. Only the best second baseman get to that ball and then convert it into an out. The issue here is that Martinez does not make a play on it at all. Just keeping the ball in the infield would have prevented the runner from going first to third on the play.
Range being as big of a factor as it is at second base is part of why Martinez has long been pegged as a long term third baseman. At third base, his arm is more of a highlight and his range is a more typical fit at a position where you do not need to cover as much ground. His hands, motions, and internal clock are put under more pressure at third. Those are things that are more likely to improve with time and coaching than range is but it's up for debate how much improvement he truly has in front of him in those areas. In the below clip, Martinez makes a nice stop at third but it's what he does after that is most impressive.
He does a great job of composing himself here. He knows how much time he has and takes the appropriate steps before throwing a hard strike to first. This play was to his left but he has shown to be capable at making tough stops to his right along the third base line as well. Martinez (like most players) has a tendency to make errant throws when he feels rushed.
At third base, knowing not only when you need to throw but if you should throw at all is very important. This is something that usually improves with experience but also with good habits such as always knowing who's running. It's worth noting that Martinez is still quite new to third base and just turned 22, there's lots of time for him to develop more of a feel for the position.
The next play is at shortstop rather than third base but it has been picked to highlight his arm strength.
He actually slips a bit here trying to regain his footing but even in this state he puts enough force behind his throw to get the runner by a good margin. It's not pretty from a technical perspective but it does do a good job of showing how his arm can give him more margin for error with inefficient defensive mechanics and motions. There are also clips where Martinez's footwork prevents him from getting his best throw off. Here he gets caught backpedaling and is not able to step into his throw properly. This is a play that he might get away with at second base but not at third base.
Based on the recent year of tape and evaluations from others, these are my Field tool grades for Martinez on the 20-80 scouting scale. A 50 is considered to be a median outcome of being an average defender at the position, a 45 is a median outcome of being a slightly below average defender at the position, and a 40 is a median outcome of being a well below average defender at the position. These grades are in the form of Current/Potential.
Entering an offseason with a lot of uncertainty regarding second and third base, it makes sense to test Martinez out at other positions for flexibility purposes. Although Martinez has been playing more second base recently, third base makes a bit more sense long term based on my evaluation. However, there is not a big enough gap between his defensive ability at either position to dictate how the front office should approach where they add this off-season. He's currently a below average defender who needs more time but does have the youth and defensive tools to improve with experience and good coaching.