Former Cleveland Indians third baseman Andy Marte was killed in a car accident early Sunday morning in the Dominican Republic. He was 33 years old.
Marte was signed by the Atlanta Braves as a 16-year-old. He became one of the top 20 prospects in baseball as he quickly moved up through their farm system, showing good power and a strong batting eye at each level, and eventually making his MLB debut at the age of 21 in 2005. In December of that year he was traded to the Boston Red Sox for All-Star shortstop Edgar Renteria. Seven weeks later he was the centerpiece of a package sent to the Indians for Coco Crisp, Josh Bard, and David Riske.
Marte appeared in 278 games for the Indians between 2006 and 2010, never able to perform as well as he had in the minors. He later signed with the Pirates and Angels, but never played for either team, spending 2011 through 2013 outside the Major Leagues, before returning for a brief stint with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2014.
Marte's MLB career was marked by disappointment, but he'd spent the last two years playing very well in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), hitting 20+ home runs in each of his two seasons there, and placing 4th in the batting title race in 2015, when he hit .348.
Because Marte didn't live up to fans' hopes with the Indians, he is often remembered less than fondly. It's an unfortunate legacy that often comes with the territory of being a highly touted athlete. In April of 2007, an early-season series between the Indians and Angels was moved from Cleveland to Milwaukee because of snow. Two friends and I drove up from Chicago for the series opener. Andy Marte doubled twice, driving in three runs in a 7-6 Tribe victory. It was a great day.