Prospect Profile: Christhian Martinez

Martinez was rolling along, mowing batters down for West Michigan in 2004, and looking to do the same in 2005 before Tommy John surgery came calling. Having completed his rehab, and returned to game action, the Tigers are looking for some promising starts out the 23-year old right-hander. Despite some early success, check inside to see why the 2006 season isn't going as planned for Martinez.

Christhian Martinez
Position: Right-Handed Pitcher Height: 6-1 Weight: 160
Born: 3/6/1982Bats: Right Throws: Right

After being signed by the Tigers as a non-drafted free agent in the spring of 2003, Martinez reported to the Dominican Summer League (DSL) for his first exposure to professional baseball. Four starts and 21 innings later, and Martinez was on his way to the United States to test his abilities in the Gulf Coast League (GCL). In the DSL, Christhian was dominating, striking out 24 and posting a miniscule 0.83 ERA. In the GCL, Martinez did not fair nearly as well, posting a 5.86 ERA over 35+ innings. After his struggles in the GCL, the Tigers only promoted him one level, to Oneonta in 2004, where he was again dominating in his only two starts. Martinez was quickly promoted to West Michigan where he continued his outstanding run. Christhian was an integral part of the Whitecaps championship drive in 2004, tossing 74 innings of great baseball, with a 2.44 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. After all his success at the lower levels, the Tigers were hoping for big things from Martinez in 2005; unfortunately, after two ineffective outings, Martinez went under the knife for Tommy John surgery.

Scouting Report
Christhian's most significant trait is definitely his poise and maturity on the mound, something young pitchers often struggle with early in their careers. Martinez has displayed exceptional calm on the mound, enabling him to be at his best under the toughest of circumstances. Martinez uses the natural sink on his average fastball to consistently induce groundballs. He combines his fastball with solid; if unspectacular, off-speed pitches that he sets up well and commands with high precision. Christhian is a "thinking-man's" pitcher in the mold of Greg Maddux, as he understands how to mix his pitches and is a true pitcher on the mound. Martinez is an average athlete who repeats his delivery exceptionally well. The combination of his advanced maturity, poise, and good command tend to make him a more effective pitcher than his raw stuff would suggest. He'll have to advance one of his pitches to a more dominating level to ensure he remains successful, but he might be able to keep advancing as an innings eater without such a change.
























*Stats are updated as of 5/12/06*

Health Record
Martinez missed nearly all of the 2005 season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery in May. His rehab went well, and he was back on the mound throwing bullpen sessions during Instructional League. Christhian came into camp healthy and ready to go this spring.

The Future
Martinez came out strong this season after being assigned to Lakeland to start the year. Despite his early success, he was sent back to extended spring training after just five starts. Christhian had begun experiencing continual stiffness in his surgically repaired elbow, and had been unable to get entirely loose for his last two starts. Setbacks like this are not uncommon for pitchers completing their recovery from TJ Surgery, so concern should minimal. It is likely his stiffness is a result of scar tissue build-up, and it should subside as it breaks away. I expect Martinez to return to Lakeland sometime next month. His future will be predicated on his ability to get outs against advanced hitters; a challenge he needs to face soon, otherwise he will run the risk of falling behind the age curve.

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