Fernando Martinez and the Mets were perfect for each other. A five-tool player that carried a great attitude and work ethic, Martinez was supposed to fill the long-term void in the corner outfield that the Mets had essentially since since Darryl Strawberry.
Dubbed, "The Teenage Hitting Machine," Martinez was supposed to be the homegrown bat that helped usher in Citi Field era, and combined with David Wright and Jose Reyes, create a trio of stars for the next decade.
But like so many before him, Martinez couldn't live up to the billing. If baseball was the online dating world, the Mets were catfished, and the Mets organization was left holding pictures of the guy that they thought knew and wondering what went wrong.
The marriage between the Mets and Martinez began in 2005, when then-GM Omar Minaya lured a 16-year-old Martinez from the Dominican Republic with a $1.4 Million signing bonus. Martinez instantly made that number seem like a bargain, By 2007, he has emerged as the Mets' top prospect, a distinction he'd keep through the 2008 season.
He appeared in two straight All Star Futures Games, and found himself on a Baseball America’s Top 20 prospect list with the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Mike Moustakas, and Jacoby Ellsbury.
During his first three years in the Mets farm system, Martinez hit .280, launched 22 homers, stole 17 bases, and drove in 104 runs. At just 19-years-old, F-Mart started to capture the hearts of the fans.
In 2009, Martinez continued his sizzling pace at AAA ball in the International League. He batted .291, blasted eight home runs, and knocked in 28 runs. And when Reyes and Ryan Church headed to the DL in May, Martinez's time had finally come. He made his highly anticipated debut for the Mets on May 26, 2009.
That anticipation quickly turned into frustration, and Fernando’s career started into a free fall. He spent his rookie campaign struggling mightily at the plate, as he batted just .176 and hit only one home run in 91 at bats. In July, Martinez suffered a torn meniscus, and his season was over.
Despite flashes of hope during 2010’s spring training, Fernando appeared in only 18 games for the Mets over the next two seasons. When he wasn’t battling injury, he watched his remaining years in the organization dwindle away in the minors.
The Mets finally admitted their mistake in 2012. Fed up with his lack of development, Sandy Alderson's front office dumped Martinez before the start of the season. He finished his Mets career having played in 47 games, in which he batted .183 and hit only two home runs.
After the Mets cut bait, the Houston Astros took a flyer on Martinez, as he was still only 23-years-old and carried upside. Unfortunately for Houston, Martinez’s career seemed irreparably damaged. He batted just .225 in only 52 games across the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
In 2013, the Astros traded Martinez to the Yankees for a minor league pitcher, and the former top prospect was set to potentially get a crack at some New York baseball redemption. But shortly after his arrival to the Bronx, he was named in the Biogenesis scandal. Martinez allegedly accepted and used performance-enhancing drugs, and consequently incurred a 50 game suspension. It was the last time he’d sniff an MLB roster.
Martinez continued his baseball career through 2017. He spent time playing between the Dominican Winter League and the Mexican League. His numbers remained pedestrian, and he never received another invite to try out for a Major League team.
At this point, everyone’s moved on from F-Mart, but when revisiting his career, it's hard not to wonder why he didn't pan out. Martinez’s scouting reports were flawless, his attitude ideal, but his lack of production left us high and dry, and in search for another savior.
If you're hitting the final home game on Thursday at Citi Field, swing by the Marina Lot to see some friends, maybe meet some new ones, and responsibly wash down your sorrows before heading inside.