SPRING TRAINING SPINNERS — Edgar Martinez

Today we continue our series on former Spinners on Boston’s Spring Training roster with a look at former catcher and current relief prospect Edgar Martinez.

Edgar Martinez — 2001 Spinners stats: .320 BA, 3 HR, 25 RBI, 23 SO, 10 BB in 175 AB

If you don’t remember Edgar Martinez closing games in Lowell, you’re not alone. That’s because after signing out from his native Venezuela as a 17-year-old in 1999, Martinez spent six years in the Red Sox system as a catcher.

His professional career began in the Gulf Coast League, where he spent parts of two seasons before a promotion in 2000 brought him to (Low-A) Augusta. But his numbers at the plate did not stand out as he compiled a mediocre .184 batting average over those first two years.

There must have been something in the water in Lowell, because Edgar had his best season as a hitter with the Spinners in 2001, when he hit .320 with a solid .370 on-base percentage and .463 slugging percentage. All of those marks stood as career bests through his final season as a catcher at Portland in 2004. After his career year with the Spinners, for which he was named a member of the Spinners 10th Anniversary team last summer, he again struggled to hit, with a .213 batting avereage over the next three seasons in Single-A and Double-A.

But Martinez’s arm always impressed, and in 2004 he was conveted to a reliever. With a mid-90’s fastball, his professional career as a pitcher has been nothing short of dominant: a 2.19 ERA and 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings since 2004. He was even named a Futures Game All-Star in last summer.

His strikeout rate declined in the second half of 2006, but didn’t lose any effectiveness. He was back to his old self with a 2.19 ERA in the Venezualen Winter League, and if he keeps it up in 2007, he may soon become a useful reliever in Boston.

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