TCN 2012 Cards Prospect #2: Carlos Martinez

Will the talented young right-hander build up enough stamina to avoid second half fatigue? Where will he end 2012?

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2011 and career stats)

2011 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
5 RHS 9/21/1991 6-0 166 R R 2010 FA

Home: Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Selected 2011 stats

QC 3 2 2.33 8 8 0 38.2 27 10 1 14 50 2.21 0.196
PB 3 3 5.28 10 10 0 46 49 31 2 30 48 1.18 0.269
Total 6 5 3.93 18 18 0 84.2 76 41 3 44 98 1.51 0.238

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

CariocaCardinal (2): Pedro Martinez had another strong year……oops, did I say Pedro? I meant Carlos Martinez, but there are so many comparisons between the two I must have gotten confused! As two, highly-touted, hard-throwing Dominican right handers of slighter-than-normal stature for a major league starting pitcher, the comparison would seem inevitable. Of course, it is never fair to compare a 20-year-old minor league pitcher to a future Hall of Famer, but the fact that people often do should give you an indication of the kind of potential they think Carlos Martinez possesses.

A more relevant comparison might be to current Cardinals minor leaguer Shelby Miller, as it provides a better frame of reference. Based on comments from various Cardinals staff, scouts, and first-hand accounts, it seems that the consensus is that Martinez is slightly more advanced as a pitcher than was Miller at the same age and level, he has an upside equal or greater to Miller, but he has a slightly less chance of reaching that full upside.

There seems to be a little bit of contradictory logic in those statements, but maybe some of it can be contributed to the previously alluded-to small frame of Martinez which gives some doubt if his body can hold up to pitching as a full-time starter. However, even most of those think he could be a lights-out closer if unable to start.

Martinez's 2012 was not without bumps as he seemingly hit a wall in the second half while at High-A Palm Beach. Most disturbing of those Palm Beach numbers were an elevated walk rate and reduced ground ball rate. But as nearly the youngest player in the league (he was 19 at the time) and the likelihood of him being tired from pitching more innings than he has in the past, I am not overly worried.

In the past, I have opined that Martinez would open 2012 at Double-A Springfield, but I now think that is unlikely. The chance for him to regain his confidence with a fresh arm at Palm Beach and to be allowed to mature a little more makes it likely he will open there. A quick move to Springfield would seem probable if he opens strong. Martinez will be 20 this upcoming season and that Pedro guy I talked about earlier made his first major league appearance at age 20.

Message board community (3): Martinez was the community's third prospect, up from last year's ninth. He received his first vote at first. Martinez, at age 19, demonstrated in just eight games that he was too good to remain in the Midwest League. He fanned 50 in his 38.2 innings there, while giving up only one home run.

Martinez then pitched in 10 games in the Florida State League, where his ERA (5.28) might worry some. But (a) that's not a lot of games; (b) he was unlucky, with a BABIP of .341, and (c) he seemed to tire, with an OPS against of .662 in his four July outings to .823 in his five appearances after that. He handled lefties (OPS of .643) as well as he did righties (.644). Martinez does need to work on his command, as can be seen from his 30 walks in 46 Palm Beach innings.

Martinez' has tremendous stuff, with serious velocity and movement on his fastball, and a developing curveball and slider. A number of coaches and scouts have compared him to Pedro Martinez.

Other than command, the only real question about Martinez is his endurance. He is a small guy, and he did seem to tire last year. But his stuff and his youth augur very well. With Shelby Miller and (likely) Lance Lynn ready to step into the rotation in the next year or so, the Cards have time to build Martinez' stamina. - Gagliano

Brian Walton (2): Though my ranking does not reflect this, to reiterate a point touched on above, there are a number of very knowledgeable baseball people in the Cardinals organization who think Martinez could ultimately be better than Miller. That is some pretty heady praise from people who should know.

The external assessments and kudos are equally promising. For example, Martinez comes in at the 19th-best prospect in baseball in the recently-released top 100. He is the 11th-ranked pitcher on the new 2012 list.

I join those hoping Martinez will begin 2012 by returning to the Florida State League. I say that not only for his personal development, but also because Palm Beach pitching coach Dennis Martinez is one of the best around at developing young arms. After all, what could be better than one Martinez helping another who hopes to surpass a third one day?

With Martinez and Oscar Taveras working their way up the ranks, it is a point of interest that they share the hometown of Puerto Plata, just 150,000 in population according to the 2002 Dominican Republic census. (Martinez is often listed as being from Colinas Del Sur, which is a part of Puerto Plata.)

This winter, the Cardinals continued to work with Martinez during their Dominican Republic instructional league, which ran from late October until mid-December. The focus was on tightening up Martinez' mechanics. (Taveras was also there for a time, but did not suit up after an extra-long 2011 season.)

The two, perhaps to one day become the greatest Latin American contributors to the long-term success of the club to be sourced from the administration of former Cardinals VP Jeff Luhnow, have yet to arrive. From that aspect, it is probably best for Luhnow and his Houston Astros that they will be moving to the American League in 2013, as they will almost certainly miss both.

Our 2012 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

There's more! Want access to the all details behind our Cardinals prospect rankings in our "Forty Days, Forty Nights, Forty Prospects" feature here at The Cardinal Nation?

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