By Joey McGraw
Planes, trains, and automobiles. These are all forms adequate transportation to get to point A to point B. Not so for many of the international players. There is much controversy on how the international players even step foot onto American soil much less actually play Major League Baseball. The tale of 26-year-old Leonys Martin’s journey is another incredible story by parting ways from Cuba.
Leonys Martin is said by many scouts to be a very good all around talent on offense and defense. He possesses one of the best arms in the game and has excellent speed which bodes well playing center field and running out infield hits. These raw tools are what made the Texas Rangers see a future star for many years to come. His journey before coming to the states is a common theme among Cuban International stars. He faced being held ransom in Mexico while his family awaited his arrival in Florida. Why was he in Mexico? There is an academy for baseball players called “The Ranch” near Monterrey, Mexico in which players come play in front of scouts and have direct access to the United States. The plan back fired when one of the “scouts” didn’t really have Martin’s best interest but saw him as a payday. Usually an agent will receive about 5% of the players earnings, however this contract was for 30% for current and all of Martin’s future earnings. In a lawsuit, Martin wanted to void the contract because he signed it “under extreme fear and duress.” His argument is that the academy is a front for human trafficking. Since then, the federal government has seized control of this academy and it no longer exists.
The reasoning behind the detour of Martin and so many others is because if a player from Cuba or any other country goes straight to the US and has US residency then they must go into the MLB draft. However, if a player stays outside of the US then a player can be a free agent and the leverage is much more favorable for the player.
If Martin can utilize his speed and increase his on base average then expect big things in the runs department. Obviously his biggest assets are his defensive skills and arm strength which he loves to show off. Recently we saw some of his abilities on full display. During Monday night’s game against the Oakland A’s it was the bottom of the eighth inning and Martin made a leaping catch into the center field wall and then turned to throw a strike to double up A’s outfielder Josh Reddick at first base. Ranger fans are enjoying the little things that Martin brings to the table because it won’t be long before he becomes a household name.