Enter Fernando Martinez: Mets' Top Prospect Makes Debut

Andrew WhartonCorrespondent IMay 27, 2009

PORT SAINT LUCIE, FL - FEBRUARY 23:  Fernando Martinez of the New York Mets poses during photo day at Tradition Field on February 23, 2009 in Port Saint Lucie, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Last night against the Washington Nationals, the Mets filed into Citi Field wanting to catch a glimpse of the next possible superstar to grace the confines in Flushing.

Luckily for Martinez, it wasn't his name gracing the headlines of the sports pages in New York this morning, but instead a man 14-years his senior in Livan Hernandez.

Hernandez was stellar, pitching the first complete game by a Mets' pitcher since the memorable Johan Santana outing on September 27, 2008. Keeping a 20-year-old kid out of the headlines the day after his debut is usually a good thing, and leave it to the two longest veterans on the team to make sure the spotlight and pressure were elsewhere.

Martinez wasn't exacty dazzling, but he did get the job done in the third inning with the bases loaded, driving in his first career run on a sharply hit fielder's choice. He would finish the night 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a hit-by-pitch. 

Should Mets fans worry the slightest bit about his two strikeouts? Not at all. In fact, don't even mention them today. Comparing the last two Mets top prospects to be called up to New York, Jose Reyes and David Wright, you see that Martinez is right in line with two current All-Stars. 

In his MLB debut on June 10, 2003, 19-year-old Jose Reyes actually shined, going 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored. However, he would quickly fall off, hitting just .205 with three doubles, a home run, and five RBI in his first 20 games. 

Now, Jose is one of the most feared leadoff hitters in baseball.

David Wright made his MLB debut on July 21, 2004, remarkably against the Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals). Wright was a disappointing 0-for-4 at the plate, and would only hit .216 with three doubles, one home run, and two RBI in his first 10 games as a Met.

Like Reyes, Wright is now recognized as one of the game's best hitters. 

Forget Butch Huskey, Alex Ochoa, and Alex Escobar. Fernando Martinez will not disappoint. Just give him enough time to become comfortable with who he is and what is expected of him in the world's biggest media spotlight.

Although he seemed unusually "jumpy" last night, scouts and coaches still say that Martinez is able to handle the stress of being the organization's top prospect, which he has been labeled as since he was 17 years old. His growth as both a player and young man have been tremendous, and, let's be honest, he's got a ton of great guys to learn from in that clubhouse.

Here's the thing, Mets fans: Wait until he hits the road next week. Let him get his first couple of games under his belt in the media epicenter of the world, and as the team travels to baseball deadbeats such as PNC Park and Nationals Park, let him focus while he is away from the pressure of New York.

Ask any scout and they will tell you this kid is almost a can't-miss product. The only reason some are hesitant to say so is because he is only 20 years old and has been riddled with injuries his entire minor league career.

This season, he has been healthy, and in the month of May, he was tearing up the International League with the worst team in AAA baseball, the Buffalo Bisons. 

Welcome to New York, Fernando! Your brilliant future awaits you.


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