The Rangers have agreed to terms with Cuban center fielder Julio Pablo Martinez, per Baseball America’s Ben Badler. Martinez, 21, will receive a $2.8 million signing bonus, wiping out the remainder of Texas’ international bonus money.
Martinez is viewed as a player who has high potential in every facet, even if he hasn’t really put up eye-popping numbers at any point. Over five seasons in Serie Nacional, Cuba’s top professional league, Martinez posted a .293/.393/.430 slash line with 23 homers in 1,183 plate appearances, including a .333/.469/.498 line with six home runs over 264 PAs in his final season before defecting from Cuba. After arriving in North America last year, Martinez played for the Trois-Rivieres Aigles of the independent Canadian-American Association and hit .297/.345/.449 with seven homers in 255 plate appearances.
Martinez, who projects as a plus center fielder, will slot in as Baseball America’s No. 60 prospect and the No. 3 prospect in Texas’ system according to Badler. MLB Pipeline has yet to update their rankings to reflect his signing. It’s likely that he’ll begin the season in High-A or Double-A.
It will be interesting to see who the Rangers now view as their center fielder of the future. 19-year-old Leody Taveras, regarded by many as Texas’ top prospect, has played almost exclusively in center over his first two minor-league seasons, and 2017 first-rounder Bubba Thompson has played all 27 of his professional games to date in center.