A week ago, a certain app on my phone reminded me that eight years ago I was waitlisted and subsequently rejected from Binghamton University. While reminding me of all my college rejections–and few acceptances–it also brought memories of when I was visiting Binghamton and got to go see the Binghamton Mets (now the Rumble Ponies) face off against Pablo Sandoval and the Connecticut Defenders (now the Richmond Flying Squirrels). Before the game I got to talk to a few of the players and get a few autographs, two of which I was very happy to get. The first one was, according to Baseball Prospectus, the number one prospect in the system and “future impact player.” The second one was described as a “solid left-handed bat, or second-division starter on a corner.” Unfortunately, the future All-Star ended up being a bust whereas the solid left-handed bat just finished in third place in the NL MVP voting. These two players I speak of are Fernando Martinez and Daniel Murphy.
Thinking of Fernando Martinez, I started to wonder not only what happened to him but other players who I once followed. While some have stuck with the Mets, ultimately a lot of them–like Martinez–are long gone. I decided to follow up on some of them to see how their careers have progressed. Some are still trying to make it in the majors, some even became stars overseas.
Fernando Martinez is the most depressing name on the list to me, as I had high hopes for him as a teenager. In 2008, he was only 19 years old and near the top of the major prospect rankings. Unfortunately, his career was derailed by frequent injuries. As Toby Hyde detailed back in 2012 at MetsBlog.com, every season Fernando Martinez just couldn’t stay healthy and had frequent long stints on the disabled list. The following is the number of games that Martinez played each season during his Mets career, including games in both the minors and major leagues.
In the 47 games that Martinez actually did play with the Met, he was mediocre. This led to his release from the organization at only 23 years of age. The Astros gave him a chance–he played 52 games with them–before trading him to the New York Yankees. During the 2013 season he was suspended 50 games for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. The suspension marked the end of his professional baseball career at the age of 25. He has spent time in the Dominican Winter League and the Mexican League but no MLB franchise has given him another chance.
Nick Evans is my favorite player on his list because I was able to buy both his and Daniel Murphy’s shirseys in 2009 and I always felt a connection with the two of them as I followed their trajectory to the majors. Unlike Murphy, Evans had a limited tenure with the Mets that lasted from 2008 to 2011 and never played more than 60 games in a year. After the Mets, he had a short time with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but never was able to stick in the majors long-term.
What makes Nick Evans interesting is his success in 2016 playing for Doosan Bears. Eric Thames’ success in the KBO got him signed to a three-year contract with the Milwaukee Brewers … but what about Nick Evans’ success?
|Eric Thames||Nick Evans||Nick Evans League Rank|
Evans–after years of mediocrity domestically–was able to be one the best hitters in the KBO last year. I hope that if Evans can repeat this performance in 2017, that some team is willing to give him a chance to play in the majors again.
The replacement for Nick Evans on the Mets was Josh Satin, a 2008 sixth-round pick out of UC Berkley. Satin was able to appeal to the Jewish fan base but never really stuck in the majors. He was replaced full-time by Lucas Duda and never got a major role with the team again. After an unsuccessful season playing for the Cincinnati Reds’ Triple-A affiliate in 2015 and 18 games with the San Diego Padres Triple-A team in 2016, he retired from professional baseball due to injury complications. However, for those who miss Josh Satin (hey, Jeff Paternostro!), he can be seen this March, playing for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic.
Mike Baxter was a hometown favorite from Whitestone who lasted three seasons with the Mets. He is most remembered for making a spectacular catch while crashing into the outfield wall that preserved Johan Santana’s no-hitter, the first and only one in the team’s history. He was waived after the 2013 season and moved onto brief stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs. He spent the 2016 season in the minors with the Seattle Mariners and is currently a minor league free agent looking for a job.
Despite only playing in only 96 games for the New York Mets, Omir Santos made his presence felt on the team. For his first home run as a Met, he hit a grand slam. However, his big moment was against the Boston Red Sox, on May 23, 2009. With the Mets down to their final out, Santos hit the ball high off the top of the Green Monster off of Jonathan Papelbon. Originally ruled a double, Santos was awarded a home run upon video review giving the Mets the lead and propelling them to a 3-2 victory over the Sox. Despite Santos’ decent season he was replaced the next season by a combination of Rod Barajas and the forgettable Henry Blanco (I didn’t even remember played for the Mets). He became a minor league free agent after the 2010 season and subsequently signed with the Detroit Tigers. As a member of the Tigers he only played in 14 more games before spending his final season in the minors of the Cleveland Indians, where he got to make one plate appearance in the majors. He is technically a minor league free agent currently despite not having played professional since 2014. His career is most likely over but at least he gave Mets fans a couple of great memories.
The other time I got to see the Binghamton Mets was in 2004. It was particularly memorable as I got to meet Jeff Duncan who played 56 games in 2003 and 13 games in 2004 for the New York Mets. (Sidenote: I was hoping to meet Scott Kazmir but he was traded a week before in the horrendous, legendary deal for Victor Zambrano.) Duncan couldn’t autograph a baseball for me before the doubleheader but was nice enough to fulfill his promise to do so in between games of the doubleheader. Unfortunately, he never made the majors again despite playing in the minors for the San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays. Since his retirement in 2008, he has gone on to become a coach at the collegiate level, coaching at both Auburn and Purdue before getting an opportunity to be the head coach of the Kent State Golden Flashes since 2014.
While these players may never play at the MLB level again, I am thankful for the memories that they have helped shape in my New York Mets fandom.
Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports