Since homering in three consecutive games last month, Julio Pablo Martinez has been missing the long ball as his game has developed in the Northwest League. With his eye-popping speed, coaches have begun to help him break down tape of bunt specialists to provide yet another tool in his arsenal.
But that doesn't mean the Rangers' No. 3 prospect can't tap into his power when the time is right.
Martinez homered on the second pitch of the game on his way to a career-high four hits as Class A Short Season Spokane blanked Everett, 6-0, on Tuesday night at Everett Memorial Stadium.
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"It's always nice to get the second pitch of the game hit over the fence," Spokane manager Kenny Holmberg said. "It gives the guy some confidence, and we're running one of our best starters out there. That was a nice cushion for Seth [Nordlin] to pitch with and the defense to play behind and continue to chip away with."
MLB.com's No. 60 overall prospect watched the first pitch from AquaSox starter Carlos Hernandez before sending the next one over the right-center field wall for his seventh Northwest League homer. After poking a single to center in the second inning, he lined a two-out double to center in the fourth off reliever Penn Murfee. Two batters later, Northwest League RBI leader Curtis Terry plated Martinez with a single to center to give the Indians a 3-0 lead.
After striking out in the sixth, the Cuba native smacked a single up the middle in the eighth to complete his first career four-hit game, then took second as Scott Kapers drew a throw to third. Spokane eventually loaded the bases and scored an insurance run on a walk. Martinez's awareness to take the extra base, Holmberg said, is just one example of his attention to detail and how he's progressed since coming to the United States following a seven-game stint in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League in June.
"I've been really impressed with how he's been working with us. Sometimes that all gets lost in the midst of the season," the skipper said. "But coming over and entering a new country and trying to adjust to a new brand of baseball, where you're pitched tough and differently, it's not easy. And he's done a great job at making the necessary adjustments.
"Spending this time with us and the last couple weeks he has, he'll only continue to work on that attention to detail in the little things: find that sense of urgency to hit the cutoff man; improve that first step when he's trying to steal; and recognizing his chances to use small ball to his advantage when he needs to."
Kapers contributed three doubles, two runs scored and an RBI out of the ninth spot in the lineup. Nordlin (4-1) gave up five hits and a walk over seven scoreless innings for his third straight win. The right-hander fanned six to grab the league lead with 66 strikeouts.