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J.D. Martinez

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Julio Daniel Martinez

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Outfielder J.D. Martinez was selected by the Houston Astros in the 20th round of the 2009 amateur draft. He was signed by scout Greg Brown and made his pro debut that summer and hit .342 with 12 home runs in 72 games between the Greeneville Astros and the Tri-City ValleyCats. He hit .314 with 18 homers between the Lexington Legends and the Corpus Christi Hooks in 2010 and was named South Atlantic League MVP.

He began 2011 back with the Hooks and hit .338 with 13 home runs through his first 88 games. Recalled by the Astros that summer after they traded All-Star right fielder Hunter Pence at the trading deadline, he made his debut as a pinch hitter against the Milwaukee Brewers on July 30th and collected a double and an RBI. He hit his first career home run on August 3rd off Dontrelle Willis of the Cincinnati Reds and added a two-run double in the 5-4 win as he began to make his presence felt in the Astros' line-up. He hit .274 with six homers and 35 RBIs in 53 games, playing regularly for the remainder of the season.

On April 13, 2012, the Miami, FL native became the first player to homer at the Miami Marlins' new ballpark, Marlins Park; he hit an 8th-inning two-run shot off Edward Mujica. He was leading the Astros with 54 RBI when he was sent down to AAA Oklahoma City on August 9th. The team was playing extremely poorly, and the front office explained that J.D.'s swing had not been quite right since starting the year on a three-week hot streak; they took advantage of his having a minor league option remaining to have him work out in the minors before coming back to Houston in September. Martinez explained that he agreed with the move: "I felt like I started off good and went through kind of a struggle and hit a plateau and never got hot again," he said. "The confidence was always there. It was never boosted back up again." He was hitting .235 with 11 homers and a team-leading 87 strikeouts at the time of his demotion.

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