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Mets $ign 16-year-old

Johnny Dickshot
Jul 11 2005 05:08 PM

All because of Pedro Martinez! (and $1.4 million!) Let's hope he's not Kenji Garcia Junior!

Teen signs one of richest deals for Dominican prospect
Associated Press

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- The New York Mets have signed a 16-year-old outfielder in one of the richest deals for a prospect from the Dominican Republic.

Fernando Martinez got a $1.4 million contract last week, even though he can't play in the United States until he turns 18.

"I didn't expect something of this size," Martinez said Saturday at his home in Rio San Juan.

Even with his lucrative deal, Martinez said he wants to attend college and study business administration. The Mets included $100,000 to pay for his studies as part of the package.

Martinez, who bats left-handed and throws righty, was signed by former major league shortstop Rafael Bournigal, the Mets' director of international scouting.

Because of his arm strength, a number of scouts had expressed interest in Martinez, comparing him to fellow Dominicans Raul Mondesi and Jose Guillen.

The Mets have a baseball academy in the Dominican and a team in the Dominican summer league. The training complex in San Cristobal is in operation all year long.

Bret Sabermetric
Jul 11 2005 05:14 PM

Bring him up--NOW!!!!

Johnny Dickshot
Jul 11 2005 05:25 PM

A translated Spanish article posted on Metsgeek suggests that 8 teams bid a million for this kid and threw around comparisons including Ted F'ing Williams. I believe he is the young player referred to in the NY Magazine article earlier this year.

sharpie
Jul 11 2005 05:28 PM

]Because of his arm strength, a number of scouts had expressed interest in Martinez, comparing him to fellow Dominicans Raul Mondesi and Jose Guillen.



Let's hope he's not quite as much of a jerk as those guys are.

Edgy DC
Jul 11 2005 05:28 PM

The aftershock articles are going to be interesting to read.

MFS62
Jul 11 2005 05:34 PM

Holy Enrioque Cruz, Batman!

At least they didn't compare him to Tim Harkness.

Later

Elster88
Jul 11 2005 05:52 PM

1.4 million to a 16-year old. One of the things that doesn't show up in the payroll disparity yet further keeps down the Pittsburghs of baseball. Just like the Yank fans did with Soriano, the denser Met fans will praise their scouts and homegrown talent without mentioning (or even realizing) that he essentially was signed as a free agent and several other teams noticed him but were simply outbid.

Edgy DC
Jul 11 2005 06:13 PM

Jose Guillen was all-tools and mediocre output for six years in the big leagues.

Here's to not this child not dying of premature hype.

cooby
Jul 11 2005 07:57 PM

Well at least his mom won't have to share a car with him

Frayed Knot
Jul 11 2005 11:20 PM

The Yanx took this kind of tack for a while: identifying the best Latin kids while real young and signing them to huge $$ deals. Problem is, they found it to be a fairly expensive high risk/low reward action and have pretty much abandoned that strategy and are going for quantity over (supposed) quality.
Not that it didn't ever work - although Soriano sorta doesn't count because he was older having gone through a Japanese farm system at the time - but there were more misses than hits: Jackson Melian, Ruben Rivera, a host of Cubans besides El Ducky, etc.

Let's hope they picked the right one to splurge on.
Reyes was signed for 80K btw.

Johnny Dickshot
Jul 12 2005 06:43 AM

seawolf17
Jul 12 2005 07:14 AM
Re: Mets $ign 16-year-old

Johnny Dickshot wrote:
Because of his arm strength, a number of scouts had expressed interest in Martinez, comparing him to fellow Dominicans Raul Mondesi and Jose Guillen.


Arm strength comparisons good; brain strength comparisons bad.

Johnny Dickshot
Jul 12 2005 07:38 AM

Does sound MFGY-like. I thought I saw somewhere recently Omar saying that they intended to make up for their lack of early draft pixx by signing more foreign FAs. The papers say thay also inked a Venezuelan.

I liked it when these type deals were like, huge dirty secrets. They signed the guy for a $100 and a sack of sugar.

Edgy DC
Jul 12 2005 07:48 AM

Maybe the Venezuelan is a huge dirty secret.

One can hope.

Iubitul
Jul 12 2005 08:06 AM

So, how old is he, really?

ScarletKnight41
Jul 12 2005 08:06 AM

24. What's it to you?

Iubitul
Jul 12 2005 08:12 AM

We need to create a formula for deciphering these kids' real age similar to the formula used to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius

Edgy DC
Jul 12 2005 08:16 AM

The Venezuealan is named Deolis Guerra.

ONly a guess but I expect teams are doing a much better job of authenticating dates of birth than they were 10 years ago.

Anyhow, when we adopt-a-prospect, it's nice to have a few at an age when they'd actually be eligible for genuine adoption.

PatchyFogg
Jul 12 2005 10:46 AM

Sheesh, Julio Franco is old enough to be this kid's grandfather.

Spacemans Bong
Jul 12 2005 10:59 AM

Elster88 wrote:
1.4 million to a 16-year old. One of the things that doesn't show up in the payroll disparity yet further keeps down the Pittsburghs of baseball. Just like the Yank fans did with Soriano, the denser Met fans will praise their scouts and homegrown talent without mentioning (or even realizing) that he essentially was signed as a free agent and several other teams noticed him but were simply outbid.

Cry me a freakin' river. The Mets have money; time to use it.

MFS62
Jul 12 2005 12:55 PM

And, in case you were wondering;

Generally, 16 year olds go to a summer camp which doesn't count towards their clock for being on the MLB 40-man roster nor towards the 6-year FA rule nor the 3-years to get to the US.

If he comes to the US or plays for the DR Mets, then this season is on the clock.

Later

Frayed Knot
Jul 13 2005 10:14 AM

More on the amateur singings:

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/minors/050712latinupdate.html

Johnny Dickshot
Jul 17 2005 01:08 PM

Um, holy shit.
****
Sweet 16
Mets have high hopes for newest phenom

By CHRISTIAN RED
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

Fernando Martinez, 16, and his mother, Ana Luisa Alvarez (below) have plenty to be happy about after newest Met prospect inked record deal earlier this month.

It was late afternoon in a Santo Domingo cafe, and two Mets scouts were intent on signing 16-year-old Dominican slugger Fernando Martinez.

They brought out all the trump cards - Martinez could play for the biggest market in America, including New York's huge Dominican population. And he would be paid handsomely, to the tune of seven figures.

By evening, there was still no contract and the two parties had moved to the home of Ivan Noboa, Martinez's agent.

"There were a lot teams calling then, trying to intercept our deal," says Eddy Toledo, a Mets scout in the D.R. who was part of the Mets' contingent that day, along with Rafael Bournigal, the club's director of international scouting. "Fernando, in my opinion, is the No. 1 prospect on the island. I've been with the Mets 25 years and he has the best bat I've ever seen at that age. No doubt about it."

And there is no doubt about the frenzy surrounding the lefty-hitting, right-handed throwing outfielder: No fewer than eight major league teams - including the Yankees, Marlins and Padres - tried to land Martinez just over a week ago. In the end, Toledo and Bournigal were the last ones standing. Martinez is officially a Met and a rich one at that - on July 2 he signed for an unprecedented $1.4 million, believed to be the most a major league club has ever paid for a player from the Dominican Republic.

"It was a party that night," Toledo says. "We spent about three hours together talking about it, celebrating, hugging each other. They (the Martinez family) were very happy. He's a great kid, great makeup. He's going to be great for New York."

* * *

Six months ago, as he surveyed dozens of prospects at the Mets' Dominican baseball academy in Boca de Nigua, Mets GM Omar Minaya talked of his vision for building a contender. "I did take this job thinking at some point we were going to be an organization that was going to draw interest in a market that a lot of the better players in baseball have come from the past couple of years," he told the Daily News then.

At the time, Minaya was still in the hunt for Carlos Delgado and had already signed elite players Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran. Minaya's philosophy was simple: build the organization into a brand name and eventually young Latin players from Puerto Rico to the Dominican and throughout the Caribbean will want to be Mets, too.

"Omar worked hard to get that money from the owners," says Toledo of Martinez's signing bonus. "But having this guy signed - we're sending a message to everyone in baseball that we're not fooling around. We've really been aggressive, especially because of Omar's presence here. This is a sign of the New York Mets, internationally."

Martinez choosing the Mets is proof the Minaya formula is working.

"It's a great team, especially Carlos Beltran," Martinez says in Spanish, speaking by cell phone from the Dominican. "The Mets were like family. I'm going to work hard to get to the major leagues and hopefully help them back to the World Series. I can't wait to see Shea, my future home."

But Mets fans should be patient. Although Martinez is scheduled to make an appearance this week in New York - along with 16-year-old Venezuelan righty Deolis Guerra, whom the Mets also recently signed - it will be another year before the two can play in the United States. Martinez turns 17 this October and according to Toledo and Noboa, will spend the remainder of the year working out at the Mets' complex and playing winter ball. The hope is for him to join a Single-A team in the spring. And if all goes according to plan?

"I think he has a chance to be in the major leagues when he's 21," says Toledo. "He can hit for power, he's gonna hit for average. Great arm. And this kid works hard. He's ready to go."

Adds Minaya: "We saw him in spring training and we believe he's a good talent. We don't have any second or third-round draft picks, so we went international."

Even the losers in the Martinez sweepstakes can only shake their heads at the one that got away.

"He's got the tools, the arm, the bat. Speed. Plus he's smart and very disciplined," says Yankees scout Victor Mata, who laughs when reminded of the current Bomber woes in center field. "He's got power. I say his bat swing is like a martillo, a hammer. He'll make it to the big leagues soon."

Felix Francisco, a scout for the Padres in Santo Domingo, says he was given the green light by San Diego GM Kevin Towers to open up the coffers and try to get Martinez.

"We had offered $1.3 million," Francisco says. "I thought we would get him. But Noboa told me (Martinez's) father has family in New York. I don't know, maybe in the end that was the difference. He's a special player. You are not going to find anyone with more tools at that age. And he has a good family, good education."

Martinez's background is what makes him stand out from the majority of young Dominican prospects. Most teenagers on the island are extremely poor and look to baseball as their only means out. Martinez, however, comes from "media clase" or a middle class family. He lives in the northern city, Rio San Juan, with his father (who is of Spanish descent), stepmother and four siblings and near his biological mother, Ana Luisa Alvarez.

"It was never about the money," Noboa says. "Fernando is very smart and has a strong family. His father is a cattle farmer and does very well in his town. They have never been lacking."

Noboa wouldn't give specifics of the contract, only to say that Martinez was not entitled to the entire amount all at once. The Mets kicked in an extra $100,000 for tuition costs if Martinez decides to pursue college studies.

In the near future, however, the only thing Martinez will be studying is how to hit the change-up, fastball and slider.

"I want to play baseball," Martinez says.

Edgy DC
Jul 17 2005 01:22 PM

Youngest player ever to play the not-about-the-money card. Or have it played for him.

]I can't wait to see Shea, my future home.


Maybe we can break it up and ship it to the DR.

Frayed Knot
Jul 17 2005 03:28 PM

Eddie Todedo, btw, was the Met scout who signed Reyes.

Elster88
Jul 18 2005 09:24 AM

Edgy DC wrote:
]I can't wait to see Shea, my future home.


Maybe we can break it up and ship it to the DR.
Beat me to it

Edgy DC
Jul 18 2005 09:32 AM

I like Shea, and would rather save it. But I recognize that the process to replace it seems irrevocably under way, and that it looks like the Mets are largely privately financing it.

How appropriate if Washington becomes the last city to be played like fools by MLB.