Stopgap Martinez now plugs self

Used by system as teen, he finds way back up at 21

Minor-league notebook

May 24, 1999|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Eddy Martinez was supposed to be a prospect in the Orioles' organization, even at the tender age of 17. But his climb up the minor-league ladder, with a stop at Triple-A Rochester two years ago, wasn't made because of his rapid progress as a shortstop.

Somehow, Martinez had become a stopgap, a player plugged into various openings in the system, whether it be because of injuries or promotions. His development, it seemed, no longer was a high priority.

"He got sidetracked," said Single-A Frederick manager Andy Etchebarren, a former Orioles catcher and bench coach.

Martinez, 21, appears to be on the right track now. He basically had to start over to re-establish himself as a prospect, beginning last season at lower Single-A Delmarva and hitting .333 in August. He has taken another step this year with a regular spot in Frederick's lineup and has yet to stumble.

Going into the weekend, Martinez was leading the Carolina League in hitting with a .331 average, with three separate eight-game streaks to his credit. The most recent, when he batted .444 (12-for-27), ended Wednesday.

"He has a good approach at the plate and he's seeing the ball well," Etchebarren said. "He's not a .330 hitter. He's hitting over his head right now, but I see him being .275 to .290."

That's better than the .241 he hit at Frederick in 1997, before moving up to Double-A Bowie and batting .156 in 16 games, then .074 in 12 games at Rochester.

Martinez has a streak intact that a certain Orioles third baseman could appreciate. He's played every inning at shortstop this season, and though he had 15 errors in 38 games, Etchebarren said the Dominican native is capable of manning the position quite capably.

"He's got a great arm and he can make some flashy plays," Etchebarren said. "He's got to work on the routine ones. Sometimes he tries to be quicker than he has to be, but he's maturing there, too."

Triple-A Rochester

The Red Wings continued to lead the International League in pitching with a 3.58 ERA heading into the weekend and were fourth with 293 strikeouts. They had outscored their opponents 171-164, but were 3-12 in one-run games. Doug Linton lost his first start after being optioned by the Orioles, allowing three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. Going into the weekend, left-hander Pete Hartmann was a combined 1-0 with a 1.25 ERA between Rochester and Double-A Bowie. Rafael Pina had recorded four saves since taking over the closer's role from Gabe Molina.

Double-A Bowie

The Baysox's season-high five-game winning streak ended Thursday in a 10-8 loss to Altoona. Going into the weekend, they were 24-14 and tied with Akron for Eastern League's Southern Division lead. Left-hander Matt Riley was promoted from Single-A Frederick after going 2-0 with a 0.57 ERA in his last four starts. Right-hander Javier De La Hoya was named the league's Pitcher of the Week after throwing eight shutout innings, with four hits allowed, in a 1-0 victory over Reading. First baseman Tom Hage hasn't cooled off. He hit safely in 12 of 13 games, batting .333 (15-for-45). He also had 15 RBIs over eight games. In his last nine games going into the weekend, infielder Rick Short batted .433 (13-for-30) with three homers, nine RBIs and nine runs scored.

Single-A Frederick

Frederick starting pitchers had compiled a 1.65 ERA in the last five games heading into this weekend. Overall, the Keys were second in the Carolina League in pitching (3.53 ERA) and first in batting (.264) and stolen bases (49). The Keys have scored four runs in right-hander Richard Bauer's four losses. Left-hander John Parrish threw six shutout innings, allowing two hits and striking out eight, in his last start against Kinston. In his last six relief appearances before this weekend, right-hander Kenny Sims had permitted only two earned runs in 18 innings. After a slow start, outfielder Luis Matos had batted .330 (38-for-115) with four homers and 15 RBIs in his last 28 games before the weekend. Catcher Jayson Werth delivered a game-winning single in the 10th inning Thursday. He was hitting .370 (10-for-27) in his last six games.

Single-A Delmarva

The Shorebirds' dormant offense has come to life. In the last five games before the weekend, they scored 40 runs and batted .335 (54-for-161). On Tuesday, they matched a club record with 16 runs and 18 hits in a 16-1 victory over Augusta. Shortstop Miakell Diaz hit .386 (27-for-70) in the last 15 games before the weekend and reached base safely in 25 of 28. Outfielder Ntema Ndungidi hit safely in 11 of 14 games, batting .347 (17-for-49). He also had 11 stolen bases, one short of Diaz's club lead. Outfielder Mack Haman hit safely in 12 of 16 games, batting .340 (16-for-47) with 10 RBIs and 14 runs scored. Catcher/second baseman Craig Daedelow was leading the South Atlantic League with a .463 on-base percentage and was seventh with a .328 average before being promoted to Frederick. Outfielder Tim Raines was hitting just .193 despite a 6-for-16 tear over three games. But he has a .346 on-base percentage due to 26 walks.

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