It had to be a pretty big blow to Leonys Martin's already dwindling confidence when he was sent to Triple-A Round Rock prior to Tuesday's Rangers win over Houston.
With his starting center fielder job basically snatched right out from under him by rookie Delino DeShields, Martin had basically become nothing more than a late-inning defensive replacement in recent weeks. Make no mistake, Martin is a fantastic fielder — he leads all of baseball in outfield assists — but he'd become a huge liability at the plate and wasn't getting enough at-bats to sufficiently work his way out of his season-long slump.
On the year, Martin is batting just .220 and he has a .265 on-base percentage, which is just a pathetic number for a guy with Martin's skill set, or anyone, really.
There's some silver lining in the case of Martin, who is in the final year of his initial $15.5 million contract he signed as an international free agent out of Cuba. He's eligible for arbitration this winter, and again next year before hitting free agency in 2019. That silver lining is seeing how Rougned Odor responded to his own demotion earlier this year.
Odor was hitting .144 through 29 games this year when he was sent down to Triple-A on May 9. He was recalled on June 15 — just more than a month later — as a result of Delino DeShields' injury. Since that day, Odor has played in 41 games, and he's batting .340 with a .966 OPS, eight doubles, five triple and seven homers. He's realistically been the Rangers' best player in that time.
Can Martin do the same? That's probably far-fetched, but he obviously has great tools and has the potential to be a near-.300 hitter with 30-steal potential and enough power to hit 15 homers per season. That doesn't even include his elite skill in center field.
The Rangers hope Martin can have a resurrection similar to the one Odor has seen, and they're going to give him plenty of time — all the time he needs — to work on what he needs to do to get better.