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Leonys Martín

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Leonis Martin.jpg

Leonys Martín Tápanes

  • Bats Left, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 1", Weight 180 lb.

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[edit] Biographical Information

Leonys Martín became a star in his third season in Cuba in 2007-2008, hitting .398/.497/.564, just behind Yoandy Garlobo for the league lead in average. He tied for second in the league in triples (9) and was 6th in steals (13). He failed to make the post-season All-Star team as Alexei Bell, Alfredo Despaigne and Yoandry Urgelles were picked as the outfielders. He made Cuba's roster for the 2009 World Baseball Classic. As a backup outfielder in the Classic, he was 2 for 7 with 3 runs. He had previously played for Cuba in the 2006 World Junior Championship.

Martín hit .311/.491/.492 in 2008-2009. He tied Yoennis Cespedes for 4th in runs (83) and tied Alexei Bell for 2nd in steals (17). He was also 5th with 78 walks. He made the All-Star team as a utility man.

In the 2009 World Port Tournament, Leonys hit .310/.356/.476 and had one assist from right field. His 7 RBI tied Ariel Borrero, Rolando Meriño and Eriel Sánchez for second in the tourney, behind Yoelvis Fiss. His four doubles tied Sidney de Jong and Borrero for second behind Sánchez. His 20 total bases were 4th and his 13 hits 5th. He also tied Meriño and Fiss for 5th in runs (7). He was 9th in average and 7th in slugging. In 2009-2010, he hit .326/.438/.497 with 82 runs in 82 games. He tied Jose Dariel Abreu for 6th in runs, stole 30 bases (second to Marino Luis) and was caught stealing 13 times.

Martín defected from Cuba in 2010 and established residence in Mexico, thereby being able to avoid the Major League's First-year player draft. He worked out for the Texas Rangers in extended spring training in Surprise, AZ in April 2011 among rumors that he was about to sign a $15.5 million contract with them. The contract was formally announced on May 4, as Rangers GM Jon Daniels described the centerfielder as an "impact player" who could be in the major league team's line-up before the end of the year. The Rangers designated pitcher Ramon Aguero for assignment to make room for him on their major league roster. He was assigned to the AA Frisco Rough Riders at first, making his debut as the team's starting centerfielder on May 12; another top prospect, Engel Beltre, was moved away from CF to a corner outfield spot to make room for Mart­ín. In his debut, he went 3-for-5 in a 10-7 victory over the Corpus Christi Hooks, including a pair of doubles. He was then moved to the AAA Round Rock Express after a month, and also made a short stay with the AZL Rangers while rehabbing for an injury. For the year, Martín hit .295/.362/.421 in 73 minor league games, with 4 homers, 53 runs scored and 19 stolen bases.

It took Martin less than a year to reach the major leagues. On August 30th, he was called up to the majors when the Rangers placed Nelson Cruz on the disabled list with a strained hamstring, although for the time being Endy Chavez, like Martín a fast lefthanded batter able to play all outfield positions, was slated to fill in as the starter for the injured Cruz. He made his debut against the Boston Red Sox on September 2nd and singled off Tim Wakefield in his first at-bat as a pinch-hitter for Josh Hamilton in the 8th inning. He then took over for Hamilton in center field. He went 3 for 8 in 8 games in his first taste of the majors, then returned to Round Rock to begin the 2012 season. He was hitting .344 with 9 doubles, 5 homers and 22 RBI in 31 games when he was called-up to Texas on June 15th after Hamilton was temporarily laid down with a stomach virus. He played 24 games for Texas, hitting only .174, although he did rack up 5 doubles and 2 triples in 46 at-bats. At Round Rock, he only played 55 games in all, hitting a sparkling .359/.422/.610 with 18 doubles and 12 homers.

In spring training of 2013, Mart­ín beat out Julio Borbon for an outfield job, and began the season in a platoon with right-handed batter Craig Gentry. He moved to right field and to the lead-off spot when RF Nelson Cruz was suspended for the remainder of the season on August 5th for his role in the Biogenesis scandal. Martin proved to be an inspired choice for the role, as he stole 3 bases in back-to-back games on August 6-7th, becoming the first player in team history to do so. That came in the midst of a streak of 9 wins in 10 games that moved Texas back into a first-place tie with the Oakland Athletics.

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