Tigers Prospect Profile #44: Luis Marte

Tigers fans finally got a glimpse of Luis Marte in 2011 as he made his big league debut after six years of minor league service to the organization, with many ups and downs along the way. Is Marte ready to compete for a big league job this spring?

Luis Marte
Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Height: 5-10
Weight: 185
Born: 8/26/1986
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Background
An international signing in 2005, Marte debuted with the Dominican Summer League Tigers as a 19-year old in 2006. He dominated the league posting a 1.38 ERA across eleven starts, fanning 90 batters in just 65 innings.

Pushed quickly in 2007, Marte spent much of the season at West Michigan where he saw action in 15 games with two starts. He finished the summer with a 2.83 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning.

The 2008 season was Marte's coming out part with a dominating run at Lakeland. In seven starts for the Tigers High-A club he posted a 1.98 ERA, allowing only 29 hits in 41 innings while striking out 41 hitters. He was promoted to Double-A Erie where he struggled to a 5.05 ERA in ten starts as his walk rate spiked and his strikeout rate dipped.

In 2009 Marte returned to Erie and started 17 games fo rhte club, throwing a career high 105 1/3 innings. He finished with a 4.02 ERA, roughly a hit allowed per inning and a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio.

The 2010 season was again spent at Double-A, this time in relief. He hurled 48 innings for the Seawolves, finishing 24 games and ending with a disappointing 5.06 ERA. Despite that lofty runs allowed total, Marte did allow less than hit per inning and struck out 53 in 48 frames.

For a fourth time, Marte headed back to Double-A in 2011, and he was nothing short of dominating the entire time he was there. Working many multiple inning stints Marte amassed 53 innings in just 23 appearances. He allowed a staggeringly low 29 hits and struck out 68 batters, helping lead to a 1.70 ERA and miniscule 0.89 WHIP.

The Tigers called Marte up in September, adding him to the 40-man roster and throwing him right into the fire for his big league debut on September 1st. In total the 24-year old Marte pitched in four games for the Tigers, allowing six hits and one walk in 3 2/3 innings.

Scouting Report
Marte has developed the ability to command his fastball to all parts of the strike zone while also changing speeds with ease. Throughout his outings, his fastball will range from 87 mph all the way up to the occasional 95 mph, while sitting in the 89-91 range most of the time.

He lacks the physical size that many teams desire in their right-handed pitchers. He makes up for it with a lightning quick arm that deceives hitters. Though he doesn't have tremendous movement or great angle to the plate, his command helps his fastball play up ever so slightly.

In addition to his ability to change speeds with his fastball, Marte will also frequently mix in his other pitches; a slider, curveball, and change-up.

Most recent reports indicate that Marte's curveball has been his best pitch, regularly earning 60-grades from scouts. Two scouts outside the organization have indicated they saw Marte flash a borderline 70-grade curve at times. Much like his fastball, Marte can vary the speed of his curveball to his advantage as well, though he typically sits in the 74-76 range.

Marte's slider has rated as one of the top sliders in the organization at times, and while it has not rated that highly this season, it still rates as a solid-average pitch that he can throw in the low-80s to give another speed and a different look.

Rounding out his arsenal, Marte will mix in a change-up that can work anywhere from 80-82 mph. He holds the pitch with a circle grip and he has outstanding arm action that gives him added deception.

With his only true plus pitch being his curveball, Marte is going to maintain a healthy list of skeptics among scouts. His pitchability and infectious positive attitude are outstanding attributes that can help his overall stuff play up a touch more.

With a four-pitch mix and excellent feel for his craft, Marte may have had some future as a starter if it weren't for durability issues. As it stands, Marte profiles in the middle of a big league bullpen, possibly as a 6th or 7th inning arm capable of going more than one inning.

Performance

Level

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

WHIP

AA

Erie

3-0

1.70

23

1

3

68

18

53.0

0.89

AAA

Toledo

1-0

5.40

2

0

0

2

4

3.1

2.10

ML

Detroit

1-0

2.45

4

0

0

3

1

3.2

1.91


Health Record
Marte has had a variety of medical issues since the middle of the 2008 season. He first battled elbow soreness in 2008, followed by a shoulder issue that sidelined him both at the end of the season and in the Arizona Fall League.

The shoulder issues came back to life in 2009 and sidelined him for much of the season, though he still did not require surgery.

In 2010, Marte missed the start of the season with a knee injury suffered in spring training as he was chasing down fly balls during batting practice. Marte's enthusiasm and love for the game have left him in a precarious position on a couple of occasions and the team has worked with him to channel his passion for the game.

This season, Marte started the year off on the DL as he dealt with shoulder problems yet again. It wasn't until June that the Tigers felt he was okay to return to game action, at which point he joined the Erie roster.

The Future
With his big league debut under his belt Marte will enter spring training with a chance to pitch his way onto the Opening Day roster. There was a chance he could mix into the long relief role but the recent acquisition of Collin Balester has altered that situation.

Long term Marte may be able to carve out a nice bridge role with the Tigers, helping get to the big guns in the late innings when a starter struggles early. On the back of his pitchability and curveball he could slide into a nice seventh inning role down the line, but his margin for error will remain small.

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