Prospect #3 - RHP Ethan Martin

Many websites have ranked Ethan Martin among the Dodgers top 10 prospects, some as high as #1. We won't quibble with the choice, normally we don't rate a player before he has completed his first professional season. Despite that he was #20 last year. And after his performance during the 2009 season, one could move into #1 but we'll fudge a bit and make him #3.

Martin tore up his knee during fielding practice after the Dodgers drafted him and he missed the entire 2008 season. He finally made his debut in 2009 at Great Lakes, piggy-backing games with another exceedingly valuable prospect, Nathan Eovaldi, who has underwent Tommy John surgery while in high school.

They often alternated starting and relieving one another with Martin working in 27 games, 19 of them starts. He blew away Midwest League batters, striking out 120 in an even 100 innings, allowing 85 hits. However, he also walked 61 and that accounted for much of his 3.87 earned run average.

It as quite a debut for the 20-year-old. Dodgers Assistant General Manager-Player Development has announced that the "gloves would be off in 2010" and both Martin and Eovaldi will be in the regular rotation.

Martin was high on every scout's list during his final high school season at Stephens County High in Toccoa, Georgia. They only disagreed on one point; would he pitch or play third base?

One scout noted: "Martin epitomizes the power/power package that scouts look for from a prototypical third baseman. His arm strength is among the best in the nation, as he has thrown 95 from the mound, which also gives him value as a pitcher.

"His power at the plate is what sets him apart, as he hits tape measure shots with a pull swing tailor-made for crushing fastballs over the left-field fence.

"While his big swing is going to leave him susceptible to some lofty strikeout totals, his power comes very easily from a balanced swing and open-legged stance. His power and athleticism makes him similar to former slugging and Gold Glove third baseman Matt  Williams."

But scouts chanaged their minds one night in March, when Martin started against American Heritage High of Plantation, Florida, the top teams in the country and the eventual national champions.

Most scouts saw him as a third baseman with superior bat speed and great power potential, but a few liked him more as a pitcher.

In the first inning, Martin faced Eric Hosmer, the top power hitter in the high school ranks. Martin fired two quick strikes that hit 94 and 96 on the speed gun, then delivered a backdoor slurve and froze Hosmer for strike three.

The stands were suddenly full of scouts scratching out the third base part and underlining the pitching potential.

"That was probably my biggest game," Martin said. "At that point I wasn't a pitcher, really. If I did well it was great. If I didn't, it wasn't going to affect me because I was a position player."

Martin followed the strikeout of Hosmer by fanning Adrian Nieto, another top prospect, for the third out. That pretty well iced the cake.

Stephens County handed American Heritage their second, and final, loss of the season thanks to Martin's dazzling performance. He pitched the complete game, striking out 11 batters, and on his 130th pitch he still hit 93 on the gun. Martin's future had just changed.

He went from an interesting two-way player to an upper-echelon pitching prospect in one start. Showing three above-average pitches he could throw for strikes as well as the ability to maintain mid-90s velocity deep into a game, Martin was sure to be one of the most closely watched prep pitchers in the draft class.

Martin sailed through the season, dominating the competition and helping his team make it to the Georgia state finals. In 15 appearances, Martin was 10-2, 1.50 with two saves and 162 strikeouts in 89 innings. At the plate he hit .509 with 18 home runs and 39 RBIs. He had 55 hits, 16 of which were doubles, giving him 34 extra-base hits, a staggering 62 percent of his total hits.

Martin would be named the 2008 Gatorade Georgia State High School Player of the Year after entering the season as a Baseball America Second-Team Pre-Season High School All-American.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder had been named a 2007 AFLAC All-American after his junior season, during which he went 6-1 with 81 strikeouts and a 1.41 ERA. He was rated by Baseball America as having the second-best fastball among draft-eligible high school pitchers. He was also rated by the publication as having the third-best secondary pitch amongst the same group.

The final piece to Martin's spectacular season came on June 5, when with the 15th overall pick of the draft, the Dodgers selected him in the first round.

Martin was also the quarterback for the Stephens County football team and appeared to be on his way to Clemson with a scholarship in hand until the Dodgers made the all-important call.

"I had some friends and family over and we were all sitting around," Martin said of the draft day anticipation. "I didn't know where I was going, but the Dodgers called about a minute before their pick. They called my name and everybody went crazy. I heard it but didn't see it. I was kind of in shock. Once everybody sat down and I saw my picture on TV it kind of hit me."

Martin's announcement was as a third baseman, but his future is on the mound. "I'm really excited to do it," Martin said. "I was overwhelmed."

In an interview with Brian Kamenetzky, Assistant General Manager, Scouting Logan White said is he aware that not everyone shares his opinion that Martin is better as a pitcher than as a third baseman. White was questioned similarly when he selected James Loney as a pitcher rather than as a first baseman in 2002.

"I think the thing with Loney was that I was so convinced that he was so much better hitter than he was as a pitcher. He was good as a pitcher, but I just felt that he had a chance to have a special glove and a special bat.   
br> "Ethan's bat is quality, but he's so good on the mound. He's ahead of where James was on the mound at the same age. He throws harder, better curveball, and things like that. And I think James was ahead of him as a hitter at the same age. 

"That's what goes into it, but it wasn't just me. It's Gib Bodet, Tim Hallgren, Paul Fryer, all our scouts.  We had so many people see him, and we're all on the same page about him being a pitcher over a hitter.

"Ethan is a fantastic young athlete who excels on the mound with an exploding fastball and a sharp-biting curve," said White. "He is a terrific competitor with first-class makeup."

"Ethan has a good angle on his fastball with late sinking action anywhere from 90-96 miles per hour," said Scouting Director Tim Hallgren. "He also has a plus-curveball that has late three-quarter downward action at the plate."

Martin entered the draft as the eighth-best pitcher – and the 16th-best overall prospect – among draft-eligible players according to Baseball America.

White pointed out that Ethan is mechanically sound. He's extremely fluid, gets over the front side well and has good arm action, All in all, he has outstanding mechanics.

"He's already 90-95 on the gun, and pitches at around 92-93. His fastball runs and he's got a plus curveball. Over the country, there's probably 2,000 guys who throw 90. That means nothing to me.  But what separates them? It's the breaking ball. What kind of breaking ball do they have, what kind of potential do they have to throw it? Then their delivery and their command. 

"My goal, on the optimistic side, is for a guy to be able to help and contribute to the big league club in three years. Realistically, it's five. I know people don't like to hear it sometimes, but a kid might get there in three years, but it might be six or seven years before he's really a big-time contributor on the roster."

RHP Ethan Martin
Height- 6-3 Weight- 200 Bats- both Throws- right Born- June 6, 1989
Obtained- Dodgers first selection in 2008 draft

year	team   w-l   era  gm  gs  sv   in   h  bb   so  whip
2008	Did not play
2009	InEmp  6-8  3.87  27  19  1  100.0  85  61  120  1.46

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