Scouting Yankee Prospect #26: Mike Martinez

The Yankees selected Mike Martinez in the 8th round of the 2004 draft. Martinez has impressed the organization with his extra polished approach on the mound and his ideal mentality for a relief pitching prospect. It's these reasons that he's our Yankee's prospect #26. (Free Preview!)

Vital Statistic
Name: Mike Martinez
Position: Relief Pitcher
DOB: April 12, 1981
Height: 6' 1"
Weight: 195
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
College: Cal State Fullerton

Well, it was certainly a complicated process but the Yankees finally got their man, Mike Martinez this year. They picked up Martinez in the 8th round of the 2004 draft but they were lucky to get him at all. It turns out that the Yankees drafted Martinez in 2003 as well and were actually quite excited about him as a project type of pick. Remember, Martinez had very little pitching experience at this point, yet the Yankees drafted him as a pitcher anyway. Yankee scouts liked his natural movement, bulldog mentality and intelligence. However, they wanted Martinez to work on his pitching in the Great Lakes Collegiate League and they would hold his rights and sign him before the 2004 draft. But, it ended up that Martinez was a huge success in the collegiate league. But, could he have been too big of a success? Well, for the Yankees, it only kept pushing his value up.

As a fifth year senior after red shirting a season because of nagging injuries, Mike Martinez blossomed into a key component of the Cal State Fullerton machine. Perhaps this is exactly what the Yankees had predicted a year earlier when they drafted him in the 44th round and sent him to the Great Lakes League. But, now, his experience there was benefiting the Titan's baseball program. With only one true summer league season of pitching under his belt, Martinez had a solid season as a swingman for the Titans. He began the season as a reliever but eventually became a big part of the starting rotation later in the season. But, as it got later in the season and Fullerton was making a run at the College World Series, the Yankees were unable to sign Martinez. In fact, only two days before the draft, Martinez's stock skyrocketed as the Yankees began to hold their breath. He pitched the game of his life against a tough Arizona Sun Devils team to help the Titans move on in the NCAA tournament. The righty tossed a complete game shutout with seven strikeouts. It was at that point that the Yankees knew they weren't going to be able to ink him before the draft. But, that wasn't about to stop them. They simply had to draft Martinez again, but this time 36 rounds earlier, in the 8th round. This time, they were able to sign him quickly and assigned him to the Staten Island Yankees. But first he had to finish helping Cal State Fullerton to a College World Series title.

When Martinez did report to Staten Island along with his college catcher, P.J. Pilittere, he was immediately tabbed as the club's new closer. There would be no one better for the job that someone who has experienced pressure like Martinez had. He came through in outstanding fashion, racking up 8 saves and compiling an impressive 1.62 ERA. Not to mention, Martinez simply pours in strike after strike. In 16.2 innings pitched, he surrendered only 1 base on ball. Mike also earned a promotion to Battle Creek and then to Tampa late in 2004. However, his statistics were not a large enough sample size to consider. The Yankees are looking for Martinez to remain in the role again next season and star as one of their top relief prospects. Here is what his possible 2005 manager, Bill Mosiello told PinstripesPlus.com about this possibility. "Mike is great. He is really a great kid. He went to Tampa at the end of this season but didn't see any time because of the hurricane. But, it almost seems certain that he will be the closer in Tampa next year and he should do an excellent job of it. Again, he is another strike thrower which is probably the best thing to be. He has the perfect mentality for that role. He is a smart kid and nothing can get to him. I think he'll be very successful. I know he can also be a starter. He started as the closer for Cal State Fullerton but started later in the season. But, we really like him in the stopper's role so he will stay there for a while and we'll see how that works out."

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2004 Staten Island 0-0 8 16.2 12 1 14 1.62

Repertoire. Four seam fastball, Two seam fastball, Changeup, Slurve

Fastball. As he even states himself, Mike Martinez is not a power pitcher. However, he has a pretty decent fastball as he throws a pretty smooth 88-91 MPH. He gets a lot of leverage, throwing right over the top. This also helps him get a lot of his sink on his two seam fastball. Martinez is a very mature pitcher and that starts with his fastball. He pounds the zone with his fastball. He can afford to do so with his kind of sinking action. Mike is also not afraid to pound hitters inside with his fastball and then paint the outside corner. The righthander loves to work off of his fastball.

Other Pitches. Even though he projects as a reliever, Mike Martinez still does possess a pretty deep repertoire. However, his best pitch besides his good moving fastball is his changeup. It has good tail down and away and is a good compliment to his sinking fastball. When he does get his strikeouts it is usually getting hitters way out on their front foot. It is likely a plus changeup. Martinez also possesses a slurve to serve as his breaking ball. However, that is not his biggest strength. In fact, that is what Martinez has said he wants to work on the most for 2005.

Pitching. Mike Martinez is a groundball pitcher, no doubt about it. He throws a good sinker in the high 80's and low 90's and he is able to keep the ball on the ground. Right now, he basically works off of his fastball and changeup. It may be enough for him to still be a good reliever but adding a more effective breaking ball is not going to hurt. His ability to command his two best pitches is what is going to push him through the organization as a reliever. Martinez is also extra tough on lefties with his excellent changeup. He is bulldog on the mound and nothing seems to get to him.

Projection. Right now, it looks like the future of Mike Martinez most certainly lies in the bullpen. He was two good pitches that he can command with consistency.

Comparison. Keith Foulke. Because of his outstanding changeup and not so overpowering style of closing out a game, Mike Martinez is quite similar to the Boston closer. Both are about the same height and have outstanding control. It also may turn out that Martinez will have the same type of successful future as an MLB closer.

ETA. Late 2006. Is this prediction bold? Yes, but certainly not inaccurate. Martinez is a guy who the organization wants to look out for as they have been after him for a couple years. And, since he is about a year over aged, he is going to move quite quickly. In 2005, he should begin the season as the closer for the Tampa Yankees with a strong chance for a promotion to Trenton later in the season. Then, it is likely that at age 25 in 2006, he will split the season between Trenton and Columbus. By late season, he could find himself in the Bronx.

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