If it were not for his oblique injury Fernando Martinez would have started the season in the big leagues with the Astros. Instead, he opened the season on the disabled list and J.D. Martinez took his spot on the opening day roster.
Fernando Martinez (Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports)
In two short weeks the healthy Martinez has become a constant in the middle of the Astros lineup. At the start of last season Martinez was a run producing threat driving in 19 runs in the first month of the season. Things quickly went downhill and J.D. found himself in the minor leagues later the season.
This season Martinez is back in the middle of the order as the Astros are in need of some run production. Prior to Monday night’s game against Oakland he was hitting .250 with one home run and five runs batted in. It is certainly a small sample size (32 at bats) but the Astros need all the offensive production they can get.
Brett Wallace on the other hand has not come close to adding any semblance of value to the Astros season. When the Astros exploded for 16 runs against the Mariners last week, Wallace was the only hitter not to have a good night. Before Bo Porter lifted him from the game, Wallace had four at bats and four strikeouts.
Since that game Wallace has gotten one other start, Saturday against the Angels. In three at-bats Wallace was hitless, but on the bright side, he did not have any strikeouts. So far this season Wallace is hitting .042 with one hit in 24 at bats and 17 strikeouts. To say the least, he has some work to do.
You could make the argument that this season is Wallace’s last chance. He has had ample opportunities to prove himself in the major leagues, and has not yet been able to. However, Wallace does deserve a legit chance. The problem though, is that he has not come close to producing, and it seems that Bo Porter has lost faith in Wallace.
If that is the case, then he should be sent down to the minor leagues so he can get some at bats and maybe work his way out of the slump. With Fernando Martinez poised to return, a roster spot is needed. J.D. Martinez has proved that he deserves to stay in Houston and he has become a staple in the middle of the lineup so far in this young season.
Brandon Barnes is the only other possible candidate to be sent down to AAA, but he has proved to be a useful player in the early stages of the season. His right handed bat comes in handy, plus his defense and speed have a place on this team. Plus he has been getting regular playing time.
All this leaves is Wallace. He should be sent down simply based on his performance. Granted I would like to see Wallace get more of a chance at the major league level, but at this point he has not proved that deserves it. But if Porter is not going to trust Wallace and not play him, then he should be sent to AAA so he can at least get regular playing time and perhaps restore a little bit of his value.
Now with the imminent return of Fernando Martinez, we get to take a look at another former top prospect. Let’s see if he can make good on that talent.