Looks like I picked the wrong day to take off. Absolutely no news today; prospects were quiet, Jose Vizcaino remained in San Francisco, and with these two teams out east sweeping or getting swept or however those high-falutin’ New Englanders call it, the spotlight was kind of off the National League.
Conor Nicholl, apparently on the Springfield beat, has a piece on Official GUB Enigma Amaury Marti that’s pretty interesting. The usual points are reiterated:
- He says he’s 27, other people say he’s 31.
- He’s really, really, really strong.
- He hit two 500 foot home runs in Palm Beach.
- He’s kind of slumping in Springfield, but seriously, we’re talking circus strong.
That about covers it, but in Nicholl’s defense there isn’t a lot to add to the Marti story.
Growing up in Fidel Castro’s Cuba, Marti started developing his strength and playing baseball when he was 10 years old. His talent eventually earned him a spot on the Cuban national team. A few years ago, Marti was playing for Cuba’s best league and someone asked if he wanted to be smuggled to the United States.
Keeping a custom that started when he came to America, Marti will talk little of his journey from Cuba to the United States. When questions were asked about his past, he said little, quietly mentioning, he still has family — including his parents, brother and son — in Cuba.
He grew up in Fidel’s Cuba, so that means he can’t be any older than… 50, give or take. Take that, Jesse Orosco.
In Spring Training 2006, Marti bounced around in Florida, trying to catch the eye of a Major League club. One time, a friend asked him if he wanted to try out for the Cardinals.
“The Cardinals, Wow!” Marti recalls. “Albert Pujols, Wow! Let’s go!”
Wow! Marti went 1-3 with a double and walk in Springfield’s most recent game, buoying hopes that his mechanical issues are being worked out. But, frustratingly enough, there’s not a lot to talk about in the meantime; on one hand, Marti could be El Duque or finger-waggling NBA center Dikembe Mutombo, coy about his age but unleashing a few very good seasons before his hair goes gray and the secret’s out. On the other hand, he could be Toe Nash, that “The Natural” type discovered working in the fields by the Devil Rays who possessed preternatural tools but never put them to use, Peter Gammons hype aside. (Of course, Marti hasn’t been brought up on theft or statutory rape charges, and he’s performed better than the stunningly raw Nash did, so there’re certainly extenuating circumstances.)
This is, according to Google, one of more than ten posts in which I’ve talked about Marti; prospects with shorter odds and better performance, thus far, have earned far less attention. Why? Amaury’s more interesting. He’s got a higher ceiling, both in terms of baseball ability and general human interest.
Maybe we’re guilty of overhyping Marti a bit; any other musclebound guy hitting .230 as a 27-31 year old in AA would be advised on this page to consider professional wrestling as a possible career choice. But Marti didn’t come out of high school, or college, or even the indie leagues; he came out of nowhere. On a boat. As with Nash, or Rick Ankiel, or any of the hundreds of Roy Hobbs littering the pages of Total Baseball with fifteen at-bat careers, we sometimes look for good stories first, and worry about the details later. But I don’t see a problem with that; baseball’s great for its detailed statistical record, but it’s the Jim Creightons and Victory Fausts, or Aaron Miles scrapping his way out of an armed robbery that make those dreary encyclopedia pages between superstars worth reading.