Carlos Martinez to see extra work ahead

Plans for top St. Louis Cardinals pitching prospect Carlos Martinez to pitch in winter ball are real.

For Caribbean-born players, the pressure to play winter ball in their native land can be intense. Clubs often draft promising players in hopes they can convince them to suit up and contribute. Teams have even been known to make premature and misleading announcements about players competing when the proper agreements were not in place.

The ultimate goal for any club is to become its nation's representative in the Caribbean Series and gain the national pride that comes with winning it all. On the other hand, MLB organizations are often wary about pitchers competing since they cannot closely monitor usage and workload.

St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Carlos Martinez has answered the call of the Águilas Cibaeñas in the Dominican Republic Winter League. The club, currently a half-game out of first place, has a long record of success, with 20 national titles and five Caribbean Series wins since 1937.

Las Águilas, which employed outfielder Oscar Taveras last winter, has secured permission for the talented 22-year-old Martinez to join its staff. A Cardinals organization official has confirmed the plan.

Martinez may make his winter ball debut as soon as this coming Saturday, December 14. It is unclear whether he will be starting or relieving and whether any restrictions on his deployment have been agreed-to. An unconfirmed report in the Dominican media suggests Martinez may be allowed to make up to 20 appearances this winter.

In his rookie campaign with St. Louis, Martinez came into his own in September and especially in the post-season, when he moved into the set-up role ahead of closer Trevor Rosenthal.

Other Cardinals on Las Águilas' roster include reliever Jose Almarante, infielder Jermaine Curtis and ex-Cardinal Hector Luna. Catcher Audry Perez also played for the club earlier this winter.

Be sure to follow Martinez' off-season exploits as well as several dozen organization prospects in our weekly Winter League Notebooks, which appear each Monday and Tuesday, exclusively for subscribers to The Cardinal Nation.

Footnote: Martinez will be allowed to pitch until mid-January and as such, will not be available for the Caribbean Series.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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