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Tigers sign Pedro Martinez Jr. to minor league deal

The international free agent has some big shoes to fill.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Boston Red Sox Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Pedro Martinez is a name known by just about every baseball fan out there. He won three Cy Young awards, the pitching Triple Crown in 1999, and was an eight-time All Star. He was a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee for good reason.

Pedro Martinez Jr., on the other hand, is not a player many have heard of just yet, but the Tigers are hoping that will change. The 17-year-old will be taking a different approach than his father to the big leagues. Pedro Martinez Sr. — and his brothers Jesus and Ramon Martinez — were all pitchers, whereas the newest Tigers’ recruit plays third base.

According to Tigers’ international scouting director Tom Moore the team are excited by what they’ve seen so far. “He's 6-foot-2 and projects to get bigger and stronger. He shows not only power, but the ability to hit.”

Amaury Nina, president of the International Prospect League agrees, saying, “He's one of the best hitters I see right here in the Dominican at his age.” Nina also cautioned against heaping too many expectations on the young hitter too early. “I had Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the IPL, too, and I don't say that Pedro's son has the same power Vladimir Jr. has, but it's going to be similar one day. Some players get power early, and some you have to wait a little bit more.”

Martinez Jr. will receive an $800,000 signing bonus, as well as a $300,000 scholarship, for inking his minor league deal with the Tigers. A far cry from the $6500 bonus paid to his father by the Dodgers in 1988.

When Martinez Jr. was asked how he felt about signing with a major league team he was enthusiastic. “This is a dream come true. I wanted to be a professional player and extend the Martinez dynasty. Being part of the Martinez family is not a pressure, it's a motivation for me. Now I'm going to focus on my career and try to make a name for myself.”

There was a caveat to the signing, and it was one that Martinez Sr. wouldn’t bend on: his son had to finish high school before playing pro ball. “To be honest, as a dad, I don't want to trade education for now,” he said. So the Tigers minor leagues won’t see the next member of the Martinez dynasty until after he graduates from a private academy in 2018. In the meantime he will spend time working at the Tigers’ baseball academy in the Dominican.

Martinez joins some fine father-son company in the majors. Tim Raines and Tim Raines Jr., Cecil and Prince Fielder, Ken Griffey and Ken Griffey Jr., and even another up-and-coming prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr., son of Vladimir Guerrero.

The $800,000 bonus the Tigers paid for Martinez won’t put too big a dent into their $4.75 million international signing pool, so look for them to sign a few more players ahead of the new season.