2011 Cardinals Prospect #5 – Carlos Martinez

The $1.5 million teen formerly known as Carlos Matias dominated in the Dominican in 2010. Where will he start in the USA in 2011?

Scout.com Player Profile (including links to full 2010 and career stats)

2010 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
NA RHS 9/21/1991 6-0 166 R R 2010 FA

Selected 2010 stats

DSL 3 2 0.76 12 12 0 59 28 8 1 14 78 1.14 0.144

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Dustin Mattison (3): Some might think I am contradicting myself by ranking Martinez this high while placing Tyrell Jenkins at 19. Both are similar in age and are raw. But with the tools Martinez has already flashed in professional ball, I am really excited about him.

The 19-year-old possesses a high nineties fastball that is said to explode through the zone. He shows control and command beyond his years that helped him produce a strikeout-to-walk ratio of nearly 6-to-1. His fastball has been rated as an 80 pitch on the scouting scale and is considered to be one of the best in the minors no matter the level. His secondary pitches lag behind his big league fastball but most believe he will develop a well enough feel to make them solid average offerings.

Martinez is a long way from St. Louis but has the makings of a true number one pitcher. In an ideal world, the right-hander and Shelby Miller will one day take the place of the team's current aces, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright.

Message board community (9): Carlos Martinez makes this list ranked higher than any Latin American free agent signing has made in any previous year (hint: he may not be the highest this year). Martinez's story with the Cardinals is somewhat of a soap opera with issues of previously voided contracts (with the Red Sox), issues of age determination, a bidding war for his second contract, and drama over if and when he would receive clearance by MLB and receive his visa to allow him to come play in the United States. Supposedly and hopefully that is all in the past and 2011 can allow Cardinal fans to see this exciting player in a US league for the entire season.

And what kind of player can they expect to see? One that dominated the Dominican Summer League in 2010 and received raves from scouts and baseball observers both inside and outside the Cardinals organization. Martinez is said to possess and command one of the best fastballs to ever come out of the Caribbean - touching 97 MPH and with good movement. His secondary offerings are considered works in progress but with enough promise to keep him on the starting pitch track rather than to fast track him has a reliever.

It will be interesting to see where the Cards start Martinez in 2011. Will they keep him in extended Spring training and then in a short season rookie league while they evaluate his progress and he works on his off speed pitches? Or will they place him straight into a full season league where his fastball alone will most likely keep him from being overmatched, but where he will be forced out of necessity to throw other pitches to keep players honest? - CariocaCardinal

Brian Walton (7): It has been a long time, perhaps never, since I have been more looking forward to see a Cardinals player in action in spring training in Jupiter, Florida in March. After all, in today's wired world, even the most obscure high school player is documented via mounds of game film posted here or there. It is almost just the opposite of Martinez, as none of us have had the pleasure of seeing him pitch and yet he ranks number five in the entire system! Both impressive and a bit scary at the same time.

One man who has seen Martinez on the mound more than almost anyone besides his coaches and teammates is Moises Rodriguez. The Cardinals director of international operations discussed the 2010 DSL leader in ERA and strikeouts.

"Carlos had a great summer," Rodriguez said. "We knew when we got him that he was a special talent. We knew what kind of arm we were getting and it translated into performance. We're excited to get him over to the States."

Rodriguez noted the DSL regional alignment may have actually hurt Martinez' numbers.

"I think when you play in a division with only four teams, the other teams get familiar with you," Rodriguez noted. "He had good numbers and if you can believe it or not, he may have even had better numbers if the division had been a little larger.

"He had an outstanding season, pitching 60 innings. He made progress, starting locating his curveball, starting to feel more comfortable with his secondary pitches, and toward the end of the year, confident all around.

"We just love him. We think he is a special talent," Rodriguez concluded.

Our 2011 top 40 countdown continues: To see our entire list of 40 Cardinals prospects, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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