What Happened to Andy Marte?

Two years ago, the Braves traded away the number-one-rated prospect in baseball Andy Marte. At the time, the Braves had bounced him up and down from Atlanta to Richmond for a year. Yes, prospects are prospects, but he looked ready to hit the majors full time after he was shipped to Boston and then Cleveland during the 2005-2006 offseason.

In Richmond (2005), Marte posted a .275/.372/.506 line at the age of 21. This followed a .269/.364/.525 season in Double-A Greenville. When I take a quick look at a prospect, I look at two things: walk rate and power. He had walk rate of 12.9% and isolated-power of .256 in Greenville; 13.9% and .231 in Richmond. Basically, I thought he was a lock to be a major league regular if not something special. Now, he’s not too old to give up on, but he has definitely fallen off the right track.

Since the Braves swapped him for Edgar Renteria, Marte has spent most of his time in Triple-A Buffalo. Coming into this season, I thought his 2006 was just a bad year (.261/.321/.451), but his 2007 is looking even worse (.245/.282/.439). In particular, he’s lost his ability to walk and hit for power. In 2006, his walk rate and isolated-power dropped to 8.7% and .190. In 2007, he’s at 5.3% and .194.

There have been many top prospects who just couldn’t cut it in the majors, but I cannot remember seeing someone so primed for stardom stall out in his third season in Triple-A. I wish I had the answer as to why.

11 Responses “What Happened to Andy Marte?”

  1. Ron says:

    Most of the time, the Braves do a great job of evaluating their own minor league talent and picking the right ones to trade away for help for the major league team. If Shuerholz thinks Andrus, Harrison, and Salty is a good deal for Texeira, I’d have to assume he knows more about Andrus and Harrison than the rest of us do and has reason to think they aren’t all some fans hope they will be.

  2. Jason says:

    I’m just speculating here. I wonder if there was some flaw in his game that the pitchers learned to exploit. It’s going back to the Murphy-Horner era, but some might remember the “can’t miss” outfielder Brad Komminsk who Hank Aaron was sure would become a big star in MLB. Komminsk had a fatal flaw – he couldn’t hit curveballs. Once pitchers figured this out, he never became much of a hitter in the majors, but he was a fairly impressive minor league hitter. I wonder if Marte has a similar flaw or if maybe he’s just totally lost his confidence at his failure to stick in the majors and maybe that is the problem.

  3. Ron says:

    I guess the real point is don’t fall in love with minor leaguers who show a lot of promise but haven’t proven themselves at the major league level. Because they refused to part with Lastings Milledge last year, the Mets may have cost themselves a world championship. I hope and expect the Braves won’t be so foolish this year.

  4. Johnny says:

    The adoration poured on Marte by sabermatricians, bloggers and taking a queue from the aforementioned, the mainstream press was a stark contrast to how the Braves treated him. They went down to Mississippi to get Francouer and let him stay even after it was apparent that he wasn’t ready. Marte had a very short window in the majors to prove himself. It turns out that the Braves saw something that all of us did not. I’ll have to start keeping an eye on Marte to see if he ever comes close to the promise he had.

  5. Johnny says:

    The comparison to Komminsk is interesting. Komminsk (‘the next Dale Murphy’) was a bonified AAA star but not quite a Quad A player. Marte’s considerable reputation was built prety much on his age during his year at Myrtle Beach in high A. As JC has written in AA and AAA he showed good but not great on base and power statistics. I bought into all of the stats guys lavish praise but now looking back doesn’t it seem that Marte was way overhyped? He is only 23. Who knows maybe he’ll have a career.

  6. JC says:

    Marte was praised by both scouts and stat-heads. The numbers he put up at his age were very good. He is still younger than Yunel Escobar. What shocks me most is not his failure to succeed in the majors, but that he seems to be getting worse in the minors.

  7. JPWF says:

    “Komminsk had a fatal flaw – he couldn’t hit curveballs.”

    Ordinarily whenever a prospect gets that label he either can, or he can hit everything else well enough to make up for it. Claiming a prospect can’t hit a curveball is scoutspeak for, “I don’t care what the #s say, I don’t like him”.

    Komminsk may be an exception though- he got over 1000 MLB PAs and just didn’t hit.
    But I wonder if injury wasn’t involved- he fell off dramatically when he repeated AAA- at age 25 he hit .234/.333/.383 in Richmond
    he went to the American Association and hit .298 /.381/.571 then fell off a cliff again- he hit for decent average bu the power was gone.

    At 22 Komminsk hit .334/.433/.596 in the IL- I don’t think you can do that in that league without the ability to hit.- it was only at age 26 that he ever had a remotely comparable season again at any level

  8. Marc Schneider says:

    These guys are human, not robots. Sometimes things just don’t work out. I think playing baseball at the major league level requires the ability to learn and adapt to very different conditions and some guys can do it and some can’t. Temperament and confidence play big roles; once a player starts doubting himself, his skills diminish. I’m not saying that is what happened to Marte but the point is you can’t really evaluate the psychological make up of a player.

  9. Shaun says:

    Marte has almost 2 K/BB. Walk rate is obviously important but also I think strikeout rate is more important in the minors than the majors. Also BABIP is more repeatable for hitters than it is for pitchers.

    Seems he always had trouble making contact and making solid contact. Pitchers may have eventually learned that if they throw him a decent pitch for a strike, he’s going to miss it a lot or at the very least not make solid contact.

    I don’t have Marte’s minor league BABIP numbers but in 90 major league games his BABIP is only .230.

  10. Andrew says:

    Sometimes with really young prospects, I try to think about what if they had gone to college. Marte would be in his 2nd or 3rd year of professional ball. He still has plenty of time to become a productive regular, although I assumed he would be starting at 3b for the home team.

  11. Heather says:

    Another guy who seems to have stalled out in Triple-A is Wes Timmons. For a couple of years, Timmons looked like the Braves’ answer to Kevin Youkilis (ridiculously good BB:K ratios). But now his numbers have fallen significantly at Richmond this year.

    Admittedly, Timmons is a lot older than Marte and never had the same ceiling. But anyone have any idea what’s happened to Timmons?