On Monday,, the Los Angeles Dodgers made their first move of the summer trade season, acquiring second baseman Darwin Barney from the Cubs for a player to be named later. Today, Bob NIghtengale of USA Today is reporting that right-handed pitcher Jonathan Martinez will be that player.
Martinez, 20, is currently 7-5 with a 3.47 ERA over 19 starts for the Great Lakes Loons, the Dodgers’ Class-A affiliate. His peripherals outpace his major stats: 1.6 BB/9, 7.7 SO/9, 1.213 WHIP.
Signed out of Venezuela for a modest $27,500 bonus in 2011, an amateur Martinez drew comparisons to Rockies right-hander and fellow countryman Jhoulys Chacin. At the time of the signing, Baseball America wrote that the 6’1 Martinez, then 17, threw strikes at 86-91 MPH from a three quarter arm slot, mixing in a curveball with “three quarters break,” and the beginnings of a change-up.
Martinez, though, does not rank as one LA’s top 30 prospects, according to Baseball America pre-season list. That is probably due in large part to the young starter’s inability to miss bats in recent years. Last season, he fanned just 4.8 batters per nine in 99.1 innings between the rookie Pioneer League and the Class-A Midwest League. A punch-out rate that low is practically unheard of in today’s game: Only two qualifying major league starters currently own K rates of 4.8 or below and neither are exactly ace-caliber: Kyle Gibson and Kevin Correia of the Twins.
But with a SO/9 of 7.7 this season, Martinez has proven he can, to at least some small degree, rely on the strikeout. He may yet make BA’s top 30 for the 2015 Cubs organization, even if he was traded for a player with a .594 OPS over the last two seasons.