Atlanta Braves News: Martin Prado Retires and We Remember

After a 14 year career that began with 7 years in a Braves uniform, Martin Prado, at 36 years old, has decided to hang up the cleats. Prado spent his first 7 with the Braves then was traded to the Diamondbacks in the Justin Upton deal. He was immediately extended by the Diamondbacks for 4/40MM and played 1.5 years in Arizona before being traded to the Yankees for (newly minted Braves Minor Leaguer) Peter O’Brien. In the offseason before the 2015 season, the Yankees dealt Prado to the Marlins for Nathan Eovaldi. The Marlins have employed him since, paying Prado 56 MM over the course of 5 years.

The following piece was a comment in our last thread by long-time Braves Journal staple, Alex Remington, and it’s worthy of its own post.

Praising Martin Prado

I think it’s worth saying a few more words about Martin Prado.

Classic sportswriter shorthand has often led to a lazy dichotomy between admirable, gritty, less-talented hard workers and frustrating, lazy, ultratalented stars who try to coast on their genes. It’s usually incorrect — Andruw Jones, who came in for a lot of criticism along the latter lines, worked incredibly hard in the video room, constantly trying to change his stance or his swing to try to address the one insuperable hole in his game, sliders low and away. There’s often a racial dimension to the dichotomy — gritty undersized Craig Counsells and David Ecksteins on the one side, the highest-paid stars in the game on the other.

I come to praise Martin Prado, not to bury him. The thing is, as talented as he was —and he’s an All-Star who made $89 million dollars in his career; he was enormously talented — he embodied the kind of perseverance and work ethic that makes baseball such a joy to watch as a kid. Martin Prado is the exact player that your coach points to when he tells you that you can’t control anything else on the field other than how much you hustle. Martin Prado always, always, hustled. He was a leader in every clubhouse he set foot in because he led by example. He was the captain on some truly wretched Marlins teams, and I have no doubt that he could spend the rest of his life coaching, managing, or scouting if he wants. No one ever expected he would become the success he was, and he earned every bit of it.

Martin Prado, Maximizing a Skillset

He was a tremendously talented ballplayer, of course, but many of his skills are softer. He didn’t have light-tower power, but he had advanced contact and plate discipline skills. Between 2015 and 2019, he had the third-lowest Z-Swing%, the percentage of pitches outside the strike zone he swung at. Joe Mauer was second, Brett Gardner was fourth, and Mookie Betts was tenth. He also had the third-highest Z-Contact%, behind only Ben Revere and Michael Brantley; Mookie Betts was 12th. His swinging-strike rate was sixth-lowest in baseball. Prado knew his swing, and he knew what to swing at.

Martin Prado, an Intelligent Player

He had a high baseball IQ and excellent defensive versatility. In his major league career, he played more than 2000 innings at second base, more than 6000 innings at third base, and 2000 innings in left field, and in 2012, the Braves asked him to spend two weeks at shortstop, despite having spent almost no time there in the majors or minors prior to that. The Braves never asked him to play center field, but he would have done it without complaint if they had.

He signed out of Venezuela at the age of 17, which immediately tells you that he was not a top-tier prospect — those guys all sign at the age of 16 (and frequently have informal agreements in place long beforehand, from Wilson Betemit to Kevin Maitan). He was signed by one of the Braves’ most legendary scouts, Rolando Petit, the man who signed Ronald Acuña, Jr. As Jeff Schultz recounts:

Petit was hired as a Braves scout in 1991 and worked for the next 27 years. He not only signed Acuña, he was either directly responsible or part of a Latin American scouting group responsible for the Braves’ signings of Ozzie Albies, Elvis Andrus, Martin Prado, Julio Teheran, Gregor Blanco, Jose Peraza and others.

Petit was fired in the post-Coppolella purge of Latin American scouting.

Martin Prado, the non-Prospect turn MLB Regular

Martin Prado was far from the prospect radar when he made his debut. In February 2006, John Sickels ranked him at the 15th-best prospect of a very weak system and gave him an overall C+ ranking; Prado got a cup of coffee that year, hit .262/.340/.405 in 49 PA. He still had his rookie eligibility, but Sickels still left him off the 2007 prospect ranking. Prado hit an empty .288/.323/.339 in 62 PA, and it was hard to believe he could be more than a Quad-A backup infielder.

Then came 2008, which felt so unlikely as to seem like a fluke: he played five positions and got 254 plate appearances, and hit .320/.377/.461. He didn’t really have a position because Kelly Johnson was still seen as the second baseman of the future and Chipper was still Chipper, but they can’t bench you when you hit .320. Prado was here to stay. He hit .307 in each of the next two years, made his first and only All-Star team in 2010, and established himself as a first-division starting player.

Not bad for a guy who didn’t even get signed when he was 16, and didn’t even get ranked on the prospect list.

Come Home, Prado.

If for whatever reason he gets tired of South Florida, it’d sure be nice to see him come back to Atlanta. I don’t think there’s a player on the roster who wouldn’t benefit from having him around.

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this piece, here’s a retro piece on the 44 Greatest Atlanta Braves on Martin Prado.

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Author: Alex R.

32 years old and I live in Northern Virginia. I am a die hard Braves fan and started following the Braves at age 5 in my hometown of Savannah, Georgia.

19 thoughts on “Atlanta Braves News: Martin Prado Retires and We Remember”

  1. When interviewed about moving to SS, Prado replied, “I’m like the Matrix. I‘ll just download the manual”.

    In 108 innings for his career at SS, he had +4 DRS. That’s remarkable.

  2. Don’t know how reliable DRS is over that number of innings, but he certainly looked fairly surehanded.

    It’s really remarkable, considering that when he was young, he acquired a really poor defensive reputation on this blog: to “Prado” a ball was to misplay it in such a way that the runner was safe but the fielder wasn’t charged with an error.

    To wit:

    Prado: Martin Prado has mastered the ability to make horrible plays on defense without being charged with errors — routine ground balls he waves at, “tough” plays that he botches for no reason, the old reliable bad relay on the double play. This leads to the term “Prado”, which is both a noun and a verb: Prado, n. “an egregious misplay that is not scored an error for some reason.” Prado, v. “To commit a Prado”. … The preceding was written by Mac during Prado’s third season in the majors. He’s really gotten a lot better since then. (Added May 6, 2008, edited September 23, 2012.)

    It was a little surprising, given that the team and announcers always gave him a good defensive reputation — though that may also have just been because any prospect who can’t hit for power is automatically tagged as a good glove man.

    In time, he became very solid on both sides of the ball.

  3. I recall it was the double plays that lead to “Prado” more than any other thing. It seemed like his throws from third to the second base bag always ran to the outfield side and carried the 2nd baseman away from the play so that they often couldn’t even attempt the turn. In the early days at 2nd he shied away from contact so much that something similar happened. Looking back at the numbers he only turned 10 DP’s in 41 games split between 2nd/3rd in 2008 whereas he posted about 0.5 DP/game or so going forward (more as a keystone sacker of course).

  4. @Alex
    Is this a personal thing, or is there a report I’m missing?

    Edit: Never mind…Clevinger. Yup, that sucks.

  5. I think it’s actually a pretty easy line: you can’t use technology, anywhere, for any reason, to help you play the game on the field. You can use technology all day in your own time, but once you’re in the dugout or on the field, you only get to play baseball with your bat, your glove, your body, and your brain. If you get a guy on second base, he can try to steal the signs and pass them along. But you can’t rig a spy satellite. There’s absolutely no one in baseball who is unaware of the line — but just like we learned during the steroids era, there are plenty of people who are willing to cross the line as long as they don’t get caught.

    Cheating makes you a guy who wants to win. Getting caught makes you a sucker. That’s how a lot of these guys are wired. And considering the amount of money that’s at stake, there are very few people capable of pushing back.

    That’s why Jim Crane’s cowardly deflection was so infuriating. The buck doesn’t stop with a guy who cashes checks that you write him every month. The buck stops with you.

  6. Martin was one of my all time favorite Braves! He was kind & gracious to the fans & wasn’t afraid to show that he was (a Christian) or loyal to his faith. God bless him & his family in his future endeavors!

  7. Here’s a good measure of the respect Prado engendered throughout his career. This is a sendoff usually reserved for far more accomplished players. On the road, in Philly no less:

    https://www.mlb.com/news/martin-prado-homers-receives-ovation

    In the moment I wondered if Edgar Garcia grooved the pitch, or if Andrew Knapp tipped him off. As Prado crosses the plate he seems to acknowledge…something, I don’t know. Wouldn’t mind if it was true, though, and it wouldn’t shock me either.

  8. I can think of several similar ways to make sign-stealing completely impossible, but they all involve conveying the information, currently passed via “signs”, via secure wireless signals instead. If you make it legal to use technology to “give” signs, then they CAN’T be stolen. Why isn’t this ever brought up?

  9. Agree with everyone else, both about Prado and about bringing him back as a coach. We have quite the cadre of Venezuelans that could use a father-figure. Having Martin around would sure poke some guys about their brand of play that’s been spoken of a few times.

    With regards to sign-stealing and cheating, in general, seems like it’s been a part of baseball and baseball lore forever. Anyone remember Joe Niekro and something flying out of his back pocket when the ump came out? Did Gaylord Perry ever throw anything without a little something extra? People laugh about that mostly and I’m sure there are dozens of pitchers doing it and it’s all good fun as long as you don’t get caught. Steroids anybody? Payoffs in Central and South America? Why do pitchers and catchers cover their mouths on the mound? The possibility of technology being used to read lips. TV cameras hone in on the signs from CF all the time so the announcers can tell the audience what pitch is coming. The only real thing that’s worse about using technology is the scale and the efficiency of the cheating that is possible. It’s an irresistible temptation and I’d be shocked if there weren’t others who either are doing it or were. How long has it been that most of the Black Sox felt they were treated unfairly? Will Pete Rose ever stop trying to be reinstated?

    Don’t get me wrong. I am with Aaron in that punishment should be severe. And, while I certainly agree that all the bad things being said are justified, I also think we need to have the perspective that this is part of human nature and finding new and different ways to lie, cheat, steal, murder, and commit every other kind of crime will never go away. Has not the research on the “prisoner’s dilemma” taught us that? I think that’s what makes the “apology tour” such a crock, too. If you get caught, take your punishment like an adult and get on with life.

  10. Today is the last day to enter the Spring Training Contest. Rules are here: https://bravesjournal.us/2020/02/07/spring-training-contest/ and you should put your entries as comments there (unless I missed an entry in a later comment.) Note that unless Riley, Freeman, Alonso, or Ozuna hits the first dinger, we won’t even get to the first tiebreaker. And anyone else other than Acuna, Albies, D’Arnaud, Duvall, Flowers, Inciarte, Jackson, Markakis, Pache, or Swanson would be an automatic win (at the moment) for the lucky entrant.

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