LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - One of the ancillary impacts of Jayson Werth's signing with the Washington Nationals lies in the Phillies' depth at centerfield.
So one of the big things that attracted them to 27-year-old Michael Martinez, whom they selected in the Rule 5 draft yesterday, was his ability to play the position.
Martinez is something of a late bloomer, having played professional basketball in his native Dominican Republic before signing with the Nationals at the age of 22. Listed at just 5-9 and 145 pounds, he is a switch-hitter who has spent most of his time at second base and shortstop, but over five minor league seasons has played 29 games in center, 16 at third and eight at the corner outfield spots.
He will join the Phillies in spring training, where they will decide if he can compete with a player like Wilson Valdez for a utility spot on the team's major league bench. A Rule 5 draft pick must remain on his new club's active roster for an entire season or be offered back to his original team. Last year, the Phillies selected righthanded reliever David Herndon, who lasted the entire season with the team and should compete for a bullpen spot again this season.
Martinez hit .272 with a .312 on-base percentage, .408 slugging percentage and 11 home runs in the minors last season. He finished the year at Triple A Syracuse, where he posted a .325/.353/.452 line with eight stolen bases in 33 games.
"He's somebody we thought, with the way we set up right now, could come in and maybe compete to fill a need," director of pro scouting Mike Ondo said.
When Shane Victorino landed on the disabled list last season, it was Werth who filled in at centerfield. Ben Francisco has played the position, but at this point is expected to see significant time in rightfield.
Any Rule 5 pick is a longshot to make the roster, but Ondo said the Phillies like Martinez' quickness and versatility.
In the minor league portion of the draft, the Phillies selected outfielder Chris Frey from the Rockies and righthander Justin Friend of the Athletics.
Frey, who can play all three outfield positions, hit .288 with one home run and 25 RBI in 101 games with Triple A Colorado Springs.
Friend went 3-3 with a 3.70 ERA in 36 games (one start) for Double A Midland.