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Martin is Key Figure Next Year

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Josh Hamilton is the best center fielder the Rangers have. He's arguably one of the best center fielders in the game with his rare mix of speed, strength and arm.

    But it's clear that the Rangers' plan for the future is not to have Hamilton roaming the biggest part of the park.

    Hamilton's history of injury and his inherent reckless style of play that is never going to change, and frankly, shouldn't, has the Rangers scrambling to figure out a way to move him out of center permanently.

    GM Jon Daniels said that the Rangers' center fielder of the future is already in the organization.

    I doubt it's Craig Gentry or Endy Chavez.

    That leaves one possibility: 23-year-old Cuban defector Leonys Martin, who was brought on last season as the first Cuban player to ever sign with the Rangers.

    Martin has all the tools — speed, running ability, arm strength, hit for average, gap power, you name it, he has it.

    But he probably won't be ready to start in the bigs on Opening Day, and he might not be quite there at all next season with 2013 as a more likely scenario.

    In 29 games at Double-A Frisco, Martin hit .348 with a .435 on-base percentage with four home runs, 24 RBIs and 10 stolen bases.

    He wasn't nearly as successful at Triple-A Round Rock, hitting .263 with a .316 on-base percentage in 40 games.

    In eight September games in Arlington, Martin was generally a pinch-runner or defensive replacement but did make one start against the Seattle Mariners on Sept. 24.

    In that game he went 2-for-4 with two runs and a double.

    The talent is clearly there, but it might be a bit overwhelming for the youngster to start from Day 1 next season, which means the Craig Gentry/Endy Chavez platoon might continue for an undetermined amount of time next season, and that might not be a bad thing.