Craig Gentry became a fan favorite for Texas Rangers last season when he had a stretch of about two months where he was one of the best hitters on the team before losing out on playing time to an even hotter David Murphy.
He was bestowed the nickname "Kitten Face" by former Ticket great Michael Gruber (@tweetgrubes), which took off like wildfire and even led to T-shirts that Gentry himself dawned.
But Gentry's playing time could be dwindling right before our eyes, just a handful of games into the Cactus League season as Cuban prospect Leonys Martin has been on fire and appears to have a much higher ceiling than Gentry.
Martin is 5-for-9 so far through four Cactus League games with three runs, a stolen base, a triple and a strikeout. His on-base is .600 and his slugging is .778. Again, through four games, and in the spring, no less.
But Martin has shown what he's capable of in the minors as he tore up Double-A Frisco in 2011 (.348/.435/.571) before being promoted to Triple-A Round Rock and struggling. Then, he spent most of 2012 in Round Rock before being called up to Arlington in September and put up a .359/.422/.610 slash line with 12 homers and 10 stolen bases in 55 games.
Gentry made a fielding mental mistake on Monday when he threw to third base instead of second and allowed a baserunner to advance to second, eliminating the possibility of a double play. If Martin has a weakness, it's in the field, but again, his ceiling is much higher.
The center field position is still up for grabs, and could still be an even platoon, but it's going to be one of the more interesting spots to watch throughout the spring, and if Martin keeps this up he could land more than a platoon spot.