Orelvis Martinez has made his MLB debut, but his stay likely won't be long

“He can definitely hit the fastball.”
Toronto Blue Jays v Cleveland Guardians
Toronto Blue Jays v Cleveland Guardians / Nick Cammett/GettyImages

Jays Journal’s No. 3 Blue Jays prospect, 22-year-old Orelvis Martinez, made his MLB debut Friday in Cleveland against the Guardians, wearing number 13, batting 8th and playing second base. This marked the 71st different lineup for Toronto in their first 75 games, so fans were hopeful that Martinez's debut might be the elixir to open the floodgates for a sputtering Toronto offence.

While it wasn’t to be, with the Jays losing 7-1, Martinez did make his first defensive play in the bottom of the 1st, when he threw to first on a José Ramírez ground ball to end the inning. He also committed a fielding error on a ground ball from Andrés Giménez that led to an unearned run in the bottom of the 2nd; and, he stroked his first MLB hit with a single to CF in the top of the 6th.

Before games played Friday, Martinez was tied for 3rd in the International League with 16 home runs for Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons. He ranked 7th with 46 RBI, and his .866 OPS trailed only Spencer Horwitz and Nathan Lukes among players with at least 170 at-bats for Buffalo. His .523 slugging percentage, admittedly at Triple-A, was 85 points higher than Daulton Varsho’s .438, which led the 26-man Blue Jays’ roster.

His big league stay is likely just going to be a cup of coffee this time given Bo Bichette is eligible to return from the injury list next Tuesday in Boston, but the power is intriguing in a lineup that only features one player with 10+ home runs.

Manager John Schneider believed Martinez’s skill set matched up well for his MLB debut against veteran Cleveland righty Carlos Carrasco, who came into the start with a 5.80 ERA, including 9 home runs allowed in 59 innings. Six of those dingers had come off right-handed bats like the one Martinez wields, and right-handed hitters were slashing .273/.328/.509 with an .837 OPS off Carrasco prior to Friday. However, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. accounted for the only Blue Jay run Friday with his 8th home run, a solo shot off Carrasco in the top of the 4th.

This isn’t 2017 Carrasco, who went 18-6 with a 3.29 ERA and 226 strikeouts in 200 innings pitched, with a fastball that averaged 94 mph. The 37-year-old edition of Carrasco features a 91 mph four-seamer — which is only 10th percentile among MLB pitchers — and a collection of off speed stuff in the 80-86 mph range.

He’d struck out only 15% of batters faced prior to Friday, which arguably should have helped a guy like Martinez, who struck out in almost 28% of his Triple-A at-bats. But Carrasco struck out 7 of the 21 Blue Jays he faced on Friday, including Martinez on a foul tip in the top of the third.

Schneider says Martinez can definitely hit the fastball, so all eyes are on the kid who is expected to get at least one more start this weekend.