TCN 2013 Cards Prospect #5: Carlos Martinez

Triple-A in 2013 seems likely, but when will he be ready for St. Louis and what role will be play?

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2012 and career stats)

2012 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
2 RHS 9/21/1991 6-0 166 R R 2010 FA

Home: Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Selected 2012 stats

PB 2 2 3.00 2.59 7 7 0 33 29 12 0 10 34 1.21 0.236 0.319
SPR 4 3 2.90 3.84 15 14 0 71.1 62 27 6 22 58 2.27 0.237 0.276
Total 6 5 2.93   22 21 0 104 91 39 6 32 92 1.86 0.236  

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

CariocaCardinal (5): Martinez flew relatively under the radar compared to some other Cardinal prospects in 2012. While Oscar Taveras rose up the national prospect charts, Shelby Miller struggled, then dominated, and then made a strong major league debut, and Trevor Rosenthal burst on the national scene with a dominating pen performance in the majors, Martinez remained just a top 30 national prospect who put up outstanding numbers while being young for his league.

In the Double-A Texas League, Martinez was better than average in nearly every statistical category. The stat that most impressed me the most was his 57 percent ground ball rate. That is excellent for a young pitcher. The Cards have been bringing Martinez along slowly. He pitched just 84 innings in 2011 and 104 in 2012. They most likely will max him out at around 130 in 2013.

It will be interesting to see where the Cards start Martinez in 2013. Do they go the conservative route and have him start in Double-A, where he finished 2012, or do they push him and advance him to Triple-A to start the season? In either case, I expect him to get a late season cup of coffee with the big club at the end of the season.

Message board community (4): Martinez slid from third on the community list last year to fourth this year. He did this despite showing that he could handle Double-A hitters in a season during which he was pitching at just 20 years of age.

His 2.90 ERA in Double-A might have been inflated by pitching at hitter-friendly Hammons Field. His ERA was 2.19 on the road, compared to 3.67 at home. His ground ball/fly ball ratio surged to 2.27 in Double-A compared to about 1.2 in his time at Palm Beach this year and last. He has the velocity to be a top end pitcher.

There are two main questions about Martinez - will he stay healthy and will he move to the bullpen? I have seen reports that he altered his mechanics to put less strain on his arm. His slight build and the need to develop more command have some thinking he will be shifted to relief. He has not pitched more than 104 1/3 innings in any season and likely needs to continue developing his ability to handle a large volume of innings.

I expect Martinez to spend the 2013 season in the Memphis rotation. Then perhaps we will see him in the Cards' bullpen for 2014 with any move to the rotation depending on factors such as signing Adam Wainwright long term, Jaime Garcia's health, and the development of Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha, Trevor Rosenthal, and Joe Kelly, each of whom might beat him to the major league rotation. - Gagliano

Brian Walton (5): I dunno. Perhaps I have a distorted view of the pecking order, but all the talk about Martinez becoming a reliever for any more than an interim period because he might be blocked by others just doesn't make sense to me.

On the other hand, if he digresses or is injured, indicating he could not handle the workload of a major league starter, that would be another situation entirely. At this point, however, that isn't the case. In fact, I haven't seen anything that leads me to believe Martinez will not be able to seize at least a middle-of-the-rotation spot.

Once Martinez shows he is ready, perhaps still a year away, his abilities are such that he should shove aside weaker rotation competitors. For others, that could mean a move to the bullpen or a trade away. In other words, a player of Martinez' talent level should not be blocked from his ultimate job for very long.

Still, I am glad the Cardinals let Martinez start his 2012 back at Palm Beach, where pitching coach extraordinaire Dennis Martinez worked with him in smoothing out his delivery, before moving him up to Springfield mid-season.

Another full year in the minors could be the best thing for Martinez long-haul and due to a strong pipeline, it looks like the Cardinals will still not have the need to push him ahead too quickly. I doubt he will be added to the 40-man until necessary.

Our 2013 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! Monthly and quarterly subscribers who upgrade to our annual pass will receive in the spring the 2013 FOX Sports NEXT Prospects Guide, a $4.95 value, for FREE. The perfect hardcopy companion to "40 Days" includes the top prospects from all 30 MLB organizations and much more. We author the Cardinals section of the guide as always.

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