BLUF: Elite relief pitcher profile that could burn white-hot and flameout quickly.
The Player: Carlos Martinez (RHP, St. Louis Cardinals) – Originally signed by the Boston Red Sox in 2009 under the name Carlos Matias, he could not pass an MLB background investigation and the contract was voided. A year later, the Cardinals signed him as Carlos Martinez for $1.5 million. He debuted with the DSL Cardinals in 20100 and posted a 0.76 ERA in 12 starts. During his stateside debut in 2011, Martinez dominated at Low-A Quad Cities, finishing his eight-start stint with a 2.33 ERA and 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings. He struggled in ten starts at High-A but still showed the ability to miss bats with 48 punch outs in 46 innings. He returned to High-A in 2012 and fanned 9.3 batters per nine innings in seven starts, finishing with an even 3.00 ERA. After some shoulder trouble and a promotion to Double-A, he posted a 2.90 ERA in 71.1 innings with 62 hits allowed and 58 whiffs.
Basis of Report: Compilation – Personal Observation (FSL 2011), Industry Contacts
Body (6-0, 165): Smaller, slight body. Lacks ideal height. Wiry strength. Little physical projection. No room to fill out or add strength for durability/stamina. Below-average body.
Delivery/Mechanics: Smoothed out over the last two years. Still has some effort in the delivery. Arm slot varies on FB but showing more consistency late in 2012. Tremendous arm speed that leads to explosive velocity. Goof follow-through with the arm but allows some recoil and falls off to first base. Won’t field his position at a high level. Generally good tempo but can get a little quick to the plate, forcing his arm speed to catch him up.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High – 100, Low – 92, Average 94-96, Grade – 70/80
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 100, Low 91, Average 94-96, Grade – 70/80
Fastball (FB) Movement: Electric pitch. Explosive natural life on FB. Difficult to square. Pitch jumps at hitters. Lacks angle to the plate but doesn’t need it with explosiveness. Grade – 60/60
Overall Fastball: Near elite pitch right now. Regularly flashes elite-level velo from wind-up and stretch. Could sit 97-99 in short stints. Potentially dominating pitch that carries the overall profile. Grade – 70/80
Curveball (CB): Flashes plus. 11-5 break that can be sharp at times. Will get around the ball and have a loopier pitch on occasion but those instances were less frequent in 2012. Hard and difficult to hit when he lets it fly. Could play up even more when really let go in short stints. Easy plus pitch long term. Grade – 50/60
Change-up (CH): Occasional plus report but frequently turned in below-average. Too firm and lacks feel for the pitch. Shows some sink when he trusts it and lets the grip do the work. Would be useful as a starter but not required in relief role. Unlikely to exceed fringe-average level long term given high-octane approach and lack of feel. Grade – 40/50
Control: Threw more strikes in 2012 than at any point in his career. Even when over-throwing FB, shows some feel for finding the strike zone. Has to work down consistently to create some modest leverage to the plate, but frequently works up. Should throw strikes at a plus level with more experience and continued work to find mechanical consistency. Grade – 50/60
Command: Lacks positive command profile due to effort/recoil in delivery and tendency to over-throw. Can overpower hitters in the strike zone and shouldn’t need refined command in shorter outings. Grade – 30/40
Summation: Smaller RHP without prototypical size. Tremendous arm speed and high-effort delivery generates impressive velocity. Can sit in the upper-90s with explosive life for short stints. Will consistently sit mid-90s over longer outings. CB is hit or miss but will flash plus potential with 11-5 break. CB has more potential when thrown harder. CH lags behind but isn’t necessary for overall profile. Lack of command profile is concerning as he would need to throw more quality strikes to be effective long term as a starter. Shoulder tendonitis this year raises flags over durability and how many bullets are in the arm. Relief profile is impressive. Potential elite RP. Potential star-level closer.
Relative Risk: Moderate. High flameout/short career potential but will get to the big leagues on FB alone.
Future: Success in Double-A in the second half of 2012 should give him some time with the big club in spring training next year. With explosive fastball and improved strike throwing, he has a chance to break camp with the club out of the bullpen. Should see St. Louis by mid-season.