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Cuban defector Leonys Martin left out of Rangers’ center field competition

Mar 6, 2012, 2:57 PM EDT

Leonys Martin, Mike Dayly, Jon Daniels AP

The Rangers spent far more than anyone expected to land 23-year-old Cuban defector Leonys Martin last year, signing him for $15.5 million over five years. He was generally impressive in the minors in his U.S. debut, but manager Ron Washington told the Dallas Morning News today that he’s still not close to helping the team:

If my guys stay healthy, my intention is he’ll get a full year in the minors. And my intention is for my guys to stay healthy.

He just needs to play. I hope from this camp he’ll learn how the game is supposed to be played and about being a pro.

That last part may be key. The problem is that Martin has been a pro for a good long time now and probably thinks pretty highly of himself. After all, the Rangers did hand him a $5 million signing bonus last year.

But Martin appears on his way back to Triple-A now, and that’s not a bad thing. After tearing up Texas League pitching to the tune of a 1.007 OPS in 112 at-bats last season, he slipped to .263/.316/.314 in 175 at-bats in Triple-A. He does have some work to do. Still, he’s a greater talent than either Julio Borbon or Craig Gentry, and the Rangers might not be able to keep him in the PCL for long if he shows improvement early on.

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