Name: Carlos Martinez
Notable 2011 Stats: 2.33 ERA, 2.35 FIP, 1 HRA, 14 BB, 50 K, and 66% GB% in 38 2/3 IP with Quad Cities (A);
5.28 ERA, 4.03 FIP, 2 HRA, 30 BB, 48 K, and 43% GB% in 46 IP with Palm Beach (High-A);
3.93 ERA, 3.26 FIP, 3 HRA, 44 BB, 98 K, and 53% GB% in 84 2/3 IP total
Why He’s This High: Martinez had a huge first year of US ball, ascending to High-A as a teenager and getting lots of strikeouts and groundballs. No international player was more highly anticipated, and he largely delivered on his promise.
Martinez is basically a more advanced version of the player 20 spots behind him, Royals prospect Yordano Ventura, in that he’s a relatively small pitcher with an absolutely huge arm, regularly throwing in the 93-96 range with his fastball–he’s been clocked near 100 mph on occasion. He also has a promising curveball that makes things very tough for both lefties and righties when it’s working.
Martinez cruised through Low-A by doing just about everything one could ask for in a pitcher–he got an obscene amount of strikeouts and groundballs, and he also kept his walk totals low. While his time at High-A was less consistent, he maintained an excellent strikeout rate and a solid groundball rate–considering his age and lack of previous US experience, that performance is a resounding success.
Why He’s This Low: As one might expect from a guy who turned 20 in September, Martinez is still raw. He walked far too many batters in High-A, including walking nearly as many lefthanders as he struck out. He needs to get much more consistent with his curveball and get more of a third pitch to reliably combat opposite-side hitters.
At 6’0″ and 165 lbs., Martinez is not a big guy, and his delivery has a lot of effort in it. That’s always going to lead to durability concerns, and the righthander has a long way to go before he can show he can handle a full minor league season, let alone a major league one. He threw just 84 2/3 innings this year.
Conclusions: Martinez is still a long way from the majors, but he has premium arm strength and has pitched extremely well for someone with this little experience. The questions about his build, mechanics, and secondary pitches leave open the possibility that he becomes a flamethrowing closer in the end–a role for which Martinez would be well-suited, but one that would carry significantly less value than a starting slot. He’s got the potential to be a front-of-the-rotation starter, and the early returns are good, but he has a lot more to prove before he can move into the top dozen or so pitching prospects in the game.
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