06/07/2004 11:54 PM ET
Giants' pick is a fielder's choice
First non-pitcher initially selected by team since 1998
By Rich Draper / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Sitting at the bottom of the second round in Monday's First-Year Player Draft, the Giants saw the top-flight pitchers on the war room board disappear.
|Eduardo Martinez-Esteve led Florida State with a .371 batting average in 2003. (courtesy Florida St.)
One by frustrating one.
Knowing their chances of reeling in a big-name hurler -- that's been their hallmark for years -- were slim, the San Francisco draft gurus decided to go for power hitting.
They felt lucky to select outfielder Eddy Martinez-Esteve of Florida State as their top pick in the second round, 70th overall. Martinez-Esteve, a sophomore, is hitting .401 with 19 homers and 78 RBIs for the Seminoles this season as the team heads into the NCAA Super Regional tournament this weekend.
While Florida State will be sorry to see Martinez-Esteve leave the squad for the pro world, they think San Francisco made a great choice.
Eduardo Martinez Esteve
Florida St. University
Position: LF B/T: R/R
H: 6-2 W: 215
Born: 1983-07-14 Class: SR
TALL, STRONG, ATHLETIC, WELL PROPORTIONED BUILD. BUILT SIMILAR TO TINO MARTINEZ. VERY AGGRESSIVE HITTER, USES ALL FIELDS. MAKES HARD CONTACT. MORE PWR THE OTHER WAY. BETTER RUNNER UNDERWAY. CARRY ON THROWS. ADEQUATE AT 3B ALSO. CHANCE TO HIT AT MAJOR LEAGUE LEVEL.
Florida State assistant baseball coach Jamey Shouppe hailed the right fielder as a pure hitter, calling him the "Manny Ramirez of college baseball -- and who wouldn't want that? He's quite the hitter, and no doubt about it, he's as good as they get in the college game."
With the Giants not having a first-round pick due to the signing of Michael Tucker in the offseason from the Kansas City Royals, the club went for the best player available -- and they apparently got what they were after.
Martinez-Esteve led the 2003 team with a .371 batting average in his first year and received freshmen All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball. He was also named as a preseason second team All-American by Baseball America this year.
Florida State (45-21) defeated UCF (47-18) in a 19-3 rout at the Seminoles' Dick Howser Stadium on Sunday to win the NCAA Tallahassee Regional and advance to Super Regional competition next weekend.
The 6-2, 200-pound outfielder from Miami was the first non-pitcher selected by San Francisco as its initial pick since infielder Tony Torcato in 1998, and the first outfielder since Dante Powell in 1994.
Martinez-Esteve, a converted third baseman, is regarded as an average fielder due to lingering leg problems -- he had hamstring strains and underwent knee surgery last offseason -- but has a strong arm.
"The scouts tell us he could hit better with a wood bat than an aluminum one, because his swing is more adept with wood," said Shouppe of the lean-muscled hitter. "He's not a weight-room guy but is a pure, natural hitter with a great swing."
The Giants were well aware of Martinez-Esteve's physical issues, and will give him medical tests when he is available after the postseason, but were buoyed by the fact the outfielder held up during the season.
Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.