Amidst the injury domino effect taking place in Queens right now, Mets fans can't help but think about an unfortunate youngster who should be taking advantage of each and every devastating blow.
That player is Fernando Martinez, and unfortunately, he's somewhat of an expert when it comes to career-derailing injuries.
The 22-year-old rightfielder, formerly the top prospect in the Mets' organization, has seen himself fall out of favor with scouts and the Mets' front office alike as his inability to stay on the field for an extended period of time has forced his stock to plunge in recent years.
These days, it's more a question of, "Can Fernando Martinez ever stick in the big leagues?" rather than the valiant inquiry of, "When will Fernando Martinez be in the big leagues?" that dominated the minds of Mets fans for the better part of the mid to late 2000s.
After signing as an undrafted free agent in 2005, Martinez made a name for himself down on the farm by showing off his five-tool potential along with his seemingly uncanny baseball IQ for a mere teenager.
He was slated as the Mets' centerfielder of the future, and if you were to tell anyone back then that by August of 2011 Carlos Beltran would no longer be a Met and Fernando Martinez would still be toiling around in Triple-A, they'd call you crazy.
But that's the course that Fernando Martinez's career has taken.
In 47 games with the Mets, Martinez has posted just a .186 batting average, with two home runs and 12 RBI. Pretty discouraging numbers from your former "star of the future," wouldn't you say?
Injuries have had their way with Martinez for the better part of his career, and it's a wonder if he'll ever regain the elite status that made him a blue-chip prospect just a couple of years ago.
From 2008 through 2010, Martinez saw his placement on ESPN Scout Keith Law's top prospect's list fall from 10 to 16 and eventually bottoming out at 73 before losing his status as a prospect in 2011.
Nonetheless, Martinez entered spring training in 2011 with a bang, impressing his new skipper in Terry Collins while putting himself back in favor with the organization that's been through more than their fare share of drama with him.
Martinez was ultimately sent to Triple-A, as the Mets decided it would be wise to give him some seasoning while hoping he could stay healthy for an entire season.
But in Late April, Angel Pagan was placed on the disabled list, and the Mets decided to bring up Martinez to take over the starting center field job. Martinez performed well during his brief stint, as he hit .250 with a home run in 20 at-bats.
Once Pagan was activated, the Mets felt it best for Fernando to go back down to Buffalo where he'd be able to play everyday, rather than wasting away on the Mets' bench in Queens.
Despite his 20 game stint with the Mets early in the season, Martinez has only appeared in 57 of the Bisons' 114 games, as injuries have once again interfered with his progression.
However, he hit .260 eight home runs and 29 RBI in limited time, making his case more curious than ever.
The question is, do the Mets give Fernando Martinez one more shot at big league prominence and call him up when rosters expand in September? Or do they allow him to work out the kinks and continue honing is craft in Buffalo?
In my humble opinion, I think it's a no-brainer that the Mets allow Martinez to further develop down on the farm. He's finally healthy and playing at a high level for Buffalo.
Why throw a wrench in the plans and bring him along too quickly now?
As painful as it is, the Mets need to continue being patient with Martinez, even if that means passing up the opportunity to place him on the big league roster with the rightfield job ripe for the taking.
Yes, Daniel Murphy's injury yesterday means Lucas Duda will be seeing much more action at first base, creating a hole of sorts in right field that will more than likely be filled by a committee of players.
However, the Mets can no longer be considered contenders in 2011, so it's not as if they can't fly by with a rotating door in rightfield.
Patience is the keyword with Martinez, and maybe, just maybe, this time next year we'll be lauding the Mets for their decision to stay patient with their darling child, as he'll be lending a big hand in the Mets' push for the playoffs in 2012.
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