Padres add Mexican League leader in HR’s, Slugging, OPS

Credit: Mexican League

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Oaxaca Guerreros

The Padres acquired first baseman Kyle Martin earlier on Wednesday, as Martin and the Padres came to terms on a contract.

Martin, a former draft pick by the Phillies, spent time in the Independent American Association before moving to Mexico. In Mexico, while playing for the Oaxaca Guerreros, he dominated. Martin was assigned to Triple-A El Paso, giving the Padres another option behind Eric Hosmer and Luke Voit. Martin has also played in the outfield, a spot where the Padres desperately need production.

Martin played for four years at the University of South Carolina, showing a dramatic improvement over his college career. After producing an OPS of under .800 in his first two seasons, he put together a strong junior year. His batting average jumped to .336. His OPS increased to .832 while walking nearly as much as he struck out. His senior year was even better, slashing .350/.455/.636/1.090. He developed a power stroke, mashing 14 home runs, after hitting just eight in his first three seasons. He walked 39 times while striking out just 27 times. He even showed some speed, stealing 11 bases while being caught just once. His stellar season caught the eyes of the Phillies, who picked him in the fourth round.

Martin saw success early in his career, putting together solid campaigns in Single-A baseball, but he could not adapt to Double-A pitching. His batting average dipped under the Mendoza line, hitting just .193. He did still have a lot of power, homering 22 times in his first Double-A season, but his OPS dipped under .700. He floundered in the minor leagues again in 2018, hitting under .200 for the second straight campaign. He saw his OPS drop to .634, a career-worst. After the dismal 2018 season, he was released, eventually moving to independent league baseball.

He spent three seasons with the Winnipeg Goldeyes, producing three solid campaigns. His OPS was over .850 in all three seasons, including a .980 OPS in 2021. 2021 was his best season, as he mashed 31 home runs in just 99 games, putting together a .609 slugging percentage. This success propelled a move to Mexico.

Martin spent the winter playing for the Mayos de Navojoa, continuing his offensive tear. In just 53 games, he homered 17 times, showing that the power he demonstrated in Winnipeg was not a fluke. His strong play helped to push the Mayos de Navojoa to a 40-28 record, which was the best regular season record in the Mexican winter league. He then moved to Oaxaca for the regular season, where he’s gotten even hotter. In just 39 games, he’s hit 18 home runs, produced an impossible .884 slugging percentage, and an incredible 1.365 OPS. The Mexican league is known for producing offense, but those three numbers are all league-leading statistics. 

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Martin will get an opportunity to play in El Paso, which will be the closest he’s ever been to the major leagues. El Paso is known for being a hitter’s paradise as well, which gives Martin the chance to stay hot. If he continues to rake, the left-hander will find himself with an opportunity at Petco Park soon enough.

It’s a low-risk, high-reward deal for the Padres, who could absolutely use a hard-hitting first baseman or corner outfielder.

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