Julio Pablo Martinez has been tearing up the Dominican Summer League in his first action since signing with the Texas Rangers in April.
The Cuban center fielder entered Wednesday with a .409/.606/.682 slash line, which shouldn't be unexpected from a 22-year-old who has extensive experience compared to those he's playing against.
He's ready for his next challenge, but it isn't the challenge many expected he would be receiving upon his arrival to the U.S.
Assistant general manager Mike Daly said that Martinez will join the short-season A affiliate Spokane on Friday for the season opener in the Northwest League, not Low A Hickory, High A Down East or Double A Frisco as many had speculated.
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Daly said that Spokane is age-appropriate, will allow Martinez to play center field more than with another affiliate, and could be a stepping stone to a promotion later in the summer.
Martinez agreed to a $2.8 million bonus in March after becoming the Rangers' international target once Shohei Ohtani signed with the Los Angeles Angels. Martinez has been in the Dominican Republic going through a spring training of sorts after spending most of his time following his defection from Cuba holding tryouts.
He said in April that he wants to be with the Rangers by 2021.
"My personal goal is no more than three years before I make it to the big leagues," Martinez said. "But I know all of that will depend on the results of my play and the needs of the big-league team."