FORT LAUDERDALE, FL- I got a look at two position players from Florida Division II colleges with a good chance to go inside the first five rounds. Nova Southeastern University hosted Florida Southern on Thursday night (May 7th, 2009) for the first of a three-game series. Nova featured leftfielder J.D. Martinez and while Robbie Shields played shortstop for Florida Southern. About ten scouts made it for the Thursday evening affair that would end up in a 21-9 drubbing by Florida Southern.
J.D. Martinez would go 1-2 on the day with a walk before being removed in the seventh inning of the blowout.
At 6-3, 194, the lanky Martinez looks the part. There’s no noticeable thickness and he’s better developed in his lower-half than in his upper. Martinez has a medium frame with mildly sloped shoulders and I’d project him upwards of 205-210 by the time he’s physically mature.
At the plate, the righthanded hitting Martinez has a slightly open stance with an unusual way of holding his bat prior to his swing. Martinez leans it back with his wrist cocked slightly towards the umpire. This does lead to a lengthened swing. Once it starts, his stroke is free and easy with a lot of extension on the end. I graded his bat-speed as 40/50.
In his first at-bat, Martinez took a walk off of a full count. He swung and missed on an 88 MPH fastball from FSC sophomore lefty Max Russell (a draft follow for 2010) and fouled off a pretty good curveball in the process. In his second at-bat, Martinez hit a flare RBI single to center. And in his third, with a 1-0 count, Martinez got under a pitch and hit a 380-foot fly out to center field.
He showed me a good approach. Martinez never swung at a bad pitch and for the most part, he worked the pitcher. That gives him a chance to become a major league hitter. He’s put up huge numbers thus far as a junior (.432-15-56, 39 BB, 26 SO in 183 AB).
I don’t think he’s a sure bet to become a plus major league hitter (who is?) because he will have to get stronger in his upper half and his bat will need to be quicker. But the sound approach gives him a leg up and the body projects for strength increases.
Martinez didn’t get any putouts or assists in the outfield, but several balls were hit his way and I got a look at how he judged fly balls. The radar is almost average, he took fairly direct routes though his agility is below-average. I graded him arm out at 40 and give it a chance to get to average in time, because he has a clean arm-stroke and will get physically stronger.
Martinez is a sure bet inside the first ten rounds and very possibly within the first five, from what I’m hearing. Teams are betting on his bat.
I blogged on Robbie Shields earlier in the year. He had a much better game today than he did for me three months ago. We’ve projected him to go in the 2nd or 3rd rounds.
A mature and strongly built 6-0, 200, Shields has line-drive power at the plate and a solid-average arm at shortstop. He’s fairly polished in all aspects. Shields went 2-7 in this game with two hard opposite field doubles. Shields struck out once in the first inning, looking at a pitch that may very well have been low and outside.
Shields has near-average bat-speed, starting with a wide, square stance from the right side. He hits from a low bat-angle, which may open holes inside with wood, but he does well on pitches on the outer half. Like Martinez, Shields has a good eye and sound approach. He’s hitting .349-5-35 over 195 at-bats, slugging .528 with a .454 OBP.
I timed him at 4.32 seconds on a groundout to the shortstop in his third at-bat, and also 4.68 rounding first on a double. Shields essentially has average speed on the bases, which is actually a big improvement from when he was in high school. At our 2005 National Top Open Showcase, the former Dade High School infielder ran a laser-timed 7.38 60 yard-dash.
Shields is a little bit heavy-legged on defense, but he has a quick first step. I think he would have good range at third base though it would be below-average (by MLB standards) at shortstop. His hands worked well and Shields showed decent body control by making three double plays up the middle, two of which he touched the bag himself and threw accurately to first while off-balance.
Shields did make one error, in the sixth inning where he caught a grounder hit right to him and threw flat-footed in the dirt to senior first baseman Ryan Stanley (who by the way, hit three homeruns during the game).
His arm can play anywhere and I do think Shields will play shortstop in the low minors. He could even be adequate, if not the prototype, in the big leagues, but I wonder if he profiles best as a third baseman or a utility man. A lot depends on the bat, of course.
OTHER FSC-NOVA NOTES: Nova has two draftable pitchers, but I was unable to see either on Thursday. Junior righthander Miles Mikolas had been suspended for unspecificed reasons. He was being talked about in the first five rounds before this development, but will not pitch the remainder of the season. Senior Andrew Fiers has emerged as a good senior sign with a chance to go in the first ten rounds….. Florida Southern senior outfielder Will Cherry was having a monstrous .370-15-43 season over 154 at-bats before going down with an injury. Cherry is also has solid run-and-throw tools, so he might be an interesting senior draft.