The Padres have signed first baseman Kyle Martin to a minor league contract, as first announced by Martin’s now-former team, los Guerreros de Oaxaca of the Mexican League (Twitter link). Martin, a client of True Gravity Sports, will head to their Triple-A affiliate in El Paso.
A fourth-round pick of the Phillies back in 2015, Martin was cut loose by the Phils following the 2018 season and spent the 2019-21 seasons with the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the independent American Association. He’s since gone on a tear in Mexico, first hitting .261/.387/.572 with 17 home runs in winter ball before now posting a gaudy .364/.480/.884 batting line during the regular season. The left-handed-hitting 29-year-old has belted 18 home runs and nine doubles in just 152 plate appearances with los Guerreros, all while walking at a 17.1% clip against a 21.7% strikeout rate. The Mexican League is an extremely hitter-friendly setting, but Martin nevertheless leads the league in homers, slugging percentage and OPS.
Martin has played first base exclusively in Mexico, but he does have limited corner outfield experience, mostly coming with the Phillies’ Double-A affiliate back in 2018. Baseball America listed Martin 30th among Phillies prospects in 2016, touting his plus raw power as his most appealing tool. He hit .226/.303/.401 in parts of four seasons in the Phillies organization but didn’t advance beyond the Double-A level.
Lack of upper-minors experience notwithstanding, Martin has crushed Mexican League pitching and found similar success during his three years with Winnipeg (.284/.370/.561, 61 homers in 1032 plate appearances). It’s an intriguing power profile for the Padres to add the upper levels of their system, and one would imagine that if Martin is able to continue at anywhere near this pace in his return to affiliated ball, he’ll put himself on the radar for a potential Major League debut with San Diego.
First baseman Eric Hosmer has turned in some of his best work since signing with the Padres so far in 2022 (.289/.349/.406), but his bat has been fading after a blistering first month of the season. Luke Voit, meanwhile, hasn’t produced as hoped as the primary designated hitter to this point (.227/.325/.371). Wil Myers has struggled mightily as the team’s primary right fielder and recently landed on the injured list, and the Padres haven’t received much production from bench bats like Matt Beaty (also on the injured list) and Jose Azocar (though Azocar has at least been roughly league-average in 77 plate appearances). Former Rangers prospect Nomar Mazara is now getting a look in right field after a big start in Triple-A. There’s enough uncertainty in the Padres’ first base/corner outfield/designated hitter mix that it’s not a surprise to see them take a no-risk look at the top slugger in Mexico.