06 April, 2006

MLB debut: Dan Uggla, Eric Reed and Carlos Martinez

Donutball continues its Major League debuts series with a couple of Florida Marlins' rookies.

Dan Uggla and Eric Reed made their first MLB appearances starting in Florida's Opening Day 1-0 defeat against Houston. Carlos Martinez came on as a reliever in the 8th inning.

Florida's starting lineup also included rookies Hanley Ramirez, Jeremy Hermida, Mike Jacobs and Jack Willingham. That's a AAA lineup.

Uggla was drafted out of Memphis by Arizona in the 11th round of the 2001 amateur draft. The second baseman has plodded along for 5 years going no higher than AA. That's a sure sign of "organisation man". He posted pretty good numbers in 2005 (297/378/502) at Tennessee. However, this is from a 25 year old at AA. So by this measure he is hardly a blue chip prospect. Florida took a chance on him and selected him in the Rule 5 draft. That means he is almost guaranteed a place on the Marlins' 25 man roster this year. Given the level the Marlins have sunk, he might keep that place on merit.

Things don't get much better with Eric Reed who inherits the centerfield job from Juan Pierre. For all Pierre's faults, he was double the player Reed projects to be. Eric has progressed through the Marlins system without posting any gaudy numbers of note. He split time between AA and AAA last year. At Alberquerque he posted 310 /335/404 with little power. Speed is his asset, but that's useless if he can't get on base.

There have been plenty of pitchers named Martinez. In fact, there was a banjo hitter called Carlos Martinez in the Majors back in the late 80s and early 90s. This Carlos Martinez hails from Venezuela. He zoomed up the Marlins depth chart after a breakout season in 2005 saving 22 games for Jupiter in the FSL. Martinez averaged just over a strikeout a game. In all he has only 240 innings in the Minors. Another sign of how stretched the Marlins have become.

Against Houston on Monday, Uggla batted 6th and went 0 for 2 with a walk and a strike out. Unfortunately, he christened his MLB career with a 6-4-3 rally killer in the second. On the field he was at the end of a strike 'em out/throw 'em out double play. (His keystone partner, Jeremy Hermida committed two errors.)

Reed also went 0 for 2, but showed his bunting prowess with a sacrifice in the 8th. It was a sacrifice for nought as pinch hitter Aguila popped out and Ramirez struck out stranding the tying run at second.

Of the three debutantes, Martinez had the best performance. Florida's fourth pitcher struck out the first two batters he faced then got Brad Ausmus to fly to Reed in center.

(Baseball Cube erroneously lists Carlos Martinez as pitching for Vermont in 2005. That's a different Carlos Martinez who is still in the Washington system. The Marlins' Martinez appears somewhat of an enigma so far. No doubt all will be revealed at some stage.)


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