He's new and he's hot.
Nobody this season has made more of an immediate impact on the Orioles farm system than Domingo Martinez, the 29-year-old first baseman signed out of the Mexican League to play for Triple-A Rochester.
In his first six games with a team battling for the playoffs, Martinez went 15-for-27 (.556) with three home runs and 18 RBIs. He had at least two hits and two RBIs in every game.
The Red Wings scored 51 runs in the first six games Martinez played and had at least 14 hits in the first five with him in the lineup.
"The first time he took batting practice, I knew he was a professional hitter," said Red Wings manager Marv Foley. "He has exceptional power, but he's also a smart hitter. He hits ropes to all fields and not by accident."
Foley calls the 6-foot-2, 230-pound Martinez "Little Cecil," as in Fielder.
Martinez has had the misfortune of playing behind John Olerud after he signed with the Toronto Blue Jays as a free agent from the Dominican Republic, then behind Frank Thomas in the Chicago White Sox organization.
He batted .320 with 91 RBIs for the Reynosa Broncos in Mexico, then missed two weeks while his visa to play in the United States cleared.
The International League batter of the week has expressed a preference for staying with the Orioles although Rafael Palmeiro is in front of him.
"I don't know where I'll be next season, but I'd rather play for Baltimore or Rochester," he said.
Playing the leader
Frederick has been playing well lately, but its quest to make the Single-A Carolina League playoffs faces a big test this week.
Rained out Monday, the Keys confront four games in three days against Northern Division leader Wilmington, the team they must beat out in the second half of the schedule.
Manager Julio Garcia doesn't consider the series crucial but deems it important.
"We've got five games with them at the end of the season," said Garcia. "And there is still a long way to go. Even if we split this series, not much is lost."
Frederick, which won five straight on the road before Sunday, is four behind first-half winner Wilmington, with Lynchburg sandwiched between them and very much in the race.
The team should be buoyed for this series by the appearance of Mark Smith, who has been assigned to Frederick to start his rehabilitation assignment.
Smith will play left field for the Keys, who will be further reinforced by the return of Nerio Rodriguez, the league ERA leader who pitched brilliantly (eight innings, four hits, no walks, one run) in a spot start for Rochester on Sunday.
Baysox pitcher parade
The game of musical pitchers continues at Double-A Bowie, which is struggling to avoid a 90-loss season.
One of the latest additions is right-hander Kevin Ryan, who became the second player to appear with the Baysox in all four years of their existence. Jose Millares, released earlier this season, is the other.
Bowie has had 27 pitchers this season, one shy of last summer, when the roster was shuffled incessantly.
Around the horn
Jimmy Haynes is still having his problems at Rochester. In his first two starts, Haynes pitched 11 2/3 innings, walked nine and allowed eight earned runs for a 6.17 ERA. . . . In a game's first at-bat, the Red Wings leadoff man is 17-for-39 with a .524 on-base percentage. . . . Joe Hall had a chance to become the second Red Wing to have six hits in a game but grounded out to the pitcher in his final at-bat Saturday. . . . Bowie has not won two straight on the road this year. The Baysox went 2-for-32 with runners in scoring position during the first seven games of their current trip. . . . Alvie Shepherd has improved since returning to the Keys' starting rotation, with his ERA dropping below 6.00 (5.88) for the first time since early in the season. . . . High Desert's Mike Berry continues to lead the California League with a .365 batting average and is third in RBIs with 97. . . . Chris Kirgan hit seven homers in a 10-game span for the Mavericks to take over the league lead with 28. . . . Bluefield, first in the Appalachian League, lost Americo Peguero to a broken hand. . . . Top draftee Brian Falkenborg has struck out 19 and walked three in 13 2/3 innings at Gulf Coast.
Pub Date: 8/14/96