Yes, Orelvis is worth getting all shook up about.
The Blue Jays have a cornerstone 3rd baseman in the making, one who has been comped to no less than Adrian Beltre. There is some high risk/high reward aspect to his profile, but Orelvis Martinez may well be the real thing.
The best hitter in the 2018 IFA class made things look ridiculously easy in Low A after a slow start, posting a 1.268 OPS and slugging 13 round trippers in the humid Florida July air. Sent to High A Vancouver for the last month and a half of the season, Orelvis showed that he could be fooled by good breaking pitches on the inner half:
But later in that same game (there were few streaming opportunities this season to see him), Martinez showed elite bat speed on a fastball that caught too much of the plate:
Some scouting reports……
Brendan Gawlowski of Fangraphs:
Despite the struggles, there’s a lot to be excited about here. Martinez is very young for the level, and growing pains are to be expected at this stage in his journey. His bat-to-ball skills are well ahead of most of his teammates, which is encouraging, and the physical tools are potentially special. His hands are extremely explosive, and when he hits a ball well, it stays hit. There’s a little bit too much hit tool volatility for him to be a sure-thing type of prospect, but I’m nonetheless bullish. Even if he hasn’t found his defensive home yet, I suspect that when he returns to the Northwest for a second spin at High-A, he’ll do plenty of damage at the plate.
Martinez has a strong frame, high-end bat speed and plus raw power. He’s an athletic mover in the box, maximizing his whole body to generate a whippy, explosive swing with the power to be a 30-plus home run hitter. Martinez has the power to hit the ball out to all fields, but his approach is geared more to pull the ball in the air. Martinez’s strikeout rate jumped to 25% in 2021 with that pull-heavy approach and chase tendencies, especially early in the season against breaking stuff. As his season progressed, Martinez became a more selective hitter, though those chase habits crept back in upon his late-season promotion to High-A Vancouver. The Blue Jays internally have believers that Martinez could stick at shortstop, though it’s hard to find like-minded evaluators with other clubs. His hands are fine for the infield and his plus arm fits on the left side of the infield, but he’s a below-average runner with heavy feet and will likely continue to lose range as he gets bigger, with third base his most likely fit.
Martinez’s current timing mechanism leaves him vulnerable to soft stuff and he’ll lunge at quality breaking balls if he’s expecting something else. He also thinks he can drive anything in on his hands, and while he’s often right, pitchers can induce defensive swings if they’re able to get in his kitchen. Some of the contact he makes is thus very soft when he gets off-balance, which leaves lingering questions about how his approach will fare against a steadier diet of better breaking balls…………..Ultimately though, this is a great athlete who has performed as a teenager against much older competition. The bat should play anywhere, and if he’s able to stick on the left side of the infield, he has an All-Star ceiling
While Orelvis is still more a pull hitter (63% this year), much of his power is to left-centre, which will be his sweet spot when he makes his MLB debut. His power really is built for the Rogers Centre. While there is a swing-and-miss element to his game, Martinez showed improved pitch recognition this year, seeing almost twice as many pitches per AB as he did as a GCL rookie.
Defensively, Martinez has made some strides at short stop, but as he matures (he played at 19 this year), he’s expected to move over to 3rd. The small sample of views we had this year showed to these eyes something of a reactive, as opposed to an instinctive fielder. His motions were a little clunky, as well. But his hands are sure, and he more than has the arm strength to make the move to the hot corner.
All in all, this is a bat-first player who should easily hit 30 HRs on a regular basis once he establishes himself as a big leaguer. Martinez will likely find himself back at Vancouver to begin 2022, with a promotion to AA at mid-season. While some might be in a rush to see him, Martinez only turned 20 last November, so 2024 might be a more realistic expectation to see him in Toronto on a full-time basis.