Carlos Martínez (pitcher, born 1991)
St. Louis Cardinals – No. 18
September 21, 1991 |
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
|May 3, 2013 for the St. Louis Cardinals|
(through 2014 season)
|Earned run average||4.28|
Carlos Ernesto Martínez (born September 21, 1991) is a Dominican professional baseball pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball (MLB). Originally signed by the Boston Red Sox as an international free agent in 2009, MLB voided his contract due to discrepancies over his name and date of birth. He was also known as Carlos Matias. However, he was eventually cleared of wrongdoing, as the inconsistencies arose due to poor record-keeping. The St. Louis Cardinals signed him in 2010, and he made his MLB debut May 3, 2013.
Martínez became a consensus top-100 prospect in all of Minor League Baseball, and one of the Cardinals' highest-rated prospects. A starter in the minor leagues, he has performed mainly in relief roles in the major leagues, but has also made spot starts. During the 2013 MLB season, fans gave him the nickname "Little Pedro," due to the similarities in physique and pitching mechanics to former Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martínez.
Early life, name and visa issues
Carlos Martínez was born in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, in a rural zone called Colinas del Sur, where official record-keeping is sometimes poor. Following the death of his mother when he was quite young, Martínez was adopted by an uncle with the last name Matias. He originally had plans to become a priest but changed his mind soon after starting to catch the attention of major league scouts. Raised with his uncle's last name, some confusion then ensued when he attempted to secure a work visa to pitch in the United States.
When the Boston Red Sox first discovered Martínez, he was a 17-year-old who threw about 90 miles per hour (140 km/h), topping out at 92 miles per hour (148 km/h), with a loose delivery and athletic frame and also sported a quality breaking pitch and changeup. Projections were made that his body would fill out, and thus, increase the velocity and movement of his pitches, including a fastball up to 95 miles per hour (153 km/h). The team considered him comparable to first-round talent available in the Major League Baseball draft. Thus, the Red Sox moved to sign him while he was still relatively unknown, in part to get him for the lowest price possible. He signed with the Red Sox for $140,000; however, a routine background check by Major League Baseball officials raised several questions about the veracity of both his true name and date of birth. As a result, the Red Sox deal was voided, and, in March 2009, MLB suspended Martínez for a period of one year.
In spite of well-known endemic problems documenting the true identity of prospects from the Dominican Republic, Craig Shipley, the Red Sox executive in charge of international signing remained adamant that the Red Sox no longer pursue Martínez. While the visa issues became more public, other teams quietly lined up to scout and bid for his services – the pitcher started to fulfill the projections the Red Sox had for him, such as throwing a fastball about 95 MPH and a power curveball. In time, the name and date of birth discrepancies were not considered to be significant issues.
Minor leagues (2010–13)
Once the MLB suspension expired, Martínez signed with the St. Louis Cardinals as an international free agent in 2010 and received a reported $1.5 million signing bonus. While sorting out visa issues, he pitched in the Dominican Summer League (DSL), where he started 12 games and completed 59 innings pitched (IP). He topped all Cardinals minor leaguers with a 0.76 earned run average (ERA), a .144 batting average against (BAA) and 0.71 walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP) and ranked second with 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings pitched (K/9), third with a 5.57 strikeout-to-walk ratio (K/BB) and the fourth toughest to hit a home run against (HR/9, 0.228). He led the DSL in ERA, BAA, K/9 and WHIP (tied for first).
After impressing Cardinal team officials at a minor league mini-camp in February, 2011, he bypassed some of the lower level assignments typical to rookies and was assigned to the Quad Cities River Bandits of the Class A Midwest League in 2011. He split the season between Quad Cities and the Palm Beach Cardinals, posting a combined won–loss record (W–L) of 6–5 over 18 games and 84 2⁄3 IP. He also participated in the 2011 All-Star Futures Game.
Returning to Palm Beach to commence the 2012 season, shoulder tendonitis began to bother him after just seven starts and the Cardinals placed him on the disabled list (DL). Despite being on the DL he was advanced to Double-A ball in late May with the Springfield Cardinals of the Texas League. After returning from the shoulder problems, Martínez posted a 4–3 W–L record over 71 IP. He registered 58 SO and ended the season with a 2.90 ERA.
Work visa issues again became a problem prior to 2013 spring training. Unable to secure the proper documents due to lingering confusion as a result of his name change when originally signing with the Cardinals, Martínez sat out nearly all of the 2013 Cardinals major league spring training.
Cleared in late March, Martínez reported to Cardinals minor league spring training more than six weeks behind schedule, in time only for the last few days of camp and requiring an extended spring in Jupiter, Florida. While awaiting the visa in the Dominican Republic, Martínez built up his readiness in a throwing program. After the extended spring, he was reassigned with the Springfield Cardinals. He made just three starts there before the Cardinals called him up. Martínez sported a 2.31 ERA in 11 2⁄3 innings with nine strikeouts.
Major leagues (2013–present)
The Cardinals called up Martínez to the Major League club, the number-three prospect in their organization, on May 3, 2013. He made his major league debut against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park that night. In one inning pitched, the seventh, he gave up a single, then induced a double play he started on a ground ball hit back to him, and then secured the third out with another ground ball. On May 27, the Cardinals sent Martínez down to Triple-A Memphis after seven appearances on the mound and eight innings in which he posted a 4.50 ERA with nine strikeouts. With the Redbirds in 2013, he made 13 starts. In 68 IP, he allowed a 2.51 ERA with 54 hits, three home runs (HR), 27 bases on balls (BB), while striking out 63.
The Cardinals recalled Martínez on August 8 after stretching out his innings workload with Memphis to bring his endurance back to being sufficient to handle the rigors of starting pitching. The next night, Martínez made his first major league start against the Los Angeles Dodgers, pitching five innings and giving up four earned runs. He earned the distinction of being the first Cardinals starter in recent memory to throw over 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) and regularly threw 96–98 miles per hour (154–158 km/h). On September 20, 2013, Martínez entered a game in the tenth against the Brewers in which the Cardinals led 7–6 and closed the game in a 1–2–3 inning. His inning helped make the Cardinals victorious and gave him his first major league save. In the 2013 regular season with the Cardinals, Martínez posted a 5.08 ERA in 28 1⁄3 innings, striking out 24. He made one start, earned one save, winning two games while losing one.
The Cardinals played him in the 2013 National League Division Series (NLDS) against the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he made three total appearances, giving up two runs in two IP. Against the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series (NLCS), he appeared in four games, giving up no runs while allowing just one hit, one walk, and striking out four in 4 2⁄3 IP. In the World Series against the Red Sox, he appeared in five games, pitched six innings, giving up five hits, three runs and one walk while striking out five. The Red Sox defeated the Cardinals 4–2 in that World Series. Between the three series, he appeared in 12 games, posted a 3.55 ERA, held opponents to a .167 BAA, and allowed three walks with 11 SO in 12 2⁄3 IP.
With the fifth starting spot in the rotation open in spring training for the 2014 campaign, Martínez started the season in the bullpen of the Major League Cardinals. Injury struck the rotation in June, and he made his first two starts of the year as spot starts. He made his third major league start and won his first on June 22, pitching five innings and yielding three earned runs in a 5–3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. In a July 3 start against the San Francisco Giants, he reached a breakthrough as a starter. In five innings, he allowed just one run on five hits, one walk and struck out six. At the plate, he collected a two-run batted in double as the Cardinals won 7–2, and Martínez collected his second win of the season.
|Award/honor||# of times||Dates (Ranking or event)||Refs|
|MLB All-Star Futures Game||1||2011|||
|Minor Leagues All-Star||1||2010 (Dominican Summer League)|||
|Minor Leagues Pitcher of the Month||1||June 2013|||
|Baseball America's Top 100 minor league prospects||3||pre-2012 (#27), pre-2013 (#38), pre-2014 (#31)|||
|MLB.com's Top 50 minor league prospects||2||pre-2012 (#30), pre-2013 (#33)|||
|Baseball Prospectus' Top minor league prospects||2||pre-2012 (#31), pre-2013 (#43)|||
|TCN/Scout.com Dominican Summer League Cardinals Starting Pitcher of the Year||1||2010|||
|The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Top Prospect||3||2011 (#5), 2012 (#2), 2013 (#5)|||
Standing 6' 0" (72 inches (180 cm)) and weighing 185 pounds (84 kg), Carlos Martínez has been commonly compared to former Cy Young winner Pedro Martínez, due to being right-handed, having a similar physique, and deceptive and surprisingly fluid pitching mechanics. Further, they both are considered power pitchers with undersized builds featuring explosive and electric pitching repertoires. For this, Carlos Martínez has been nicknamed "Baby Pedro." In spite of his stereotypic physical limitations, certain attributes such as his natural athleticism cover somewhat for the lack of height. Further, a loose frame and naturally quick release also play up his skills on the mound. Martínez started his professional career throwing three pitches, a fastball, curveball, and a changeup. He has since added a sinking fastball and slider.
The high-velocity, electric fastball that originally caught the attention of Red Sox scouts when Martínez was 17 has developed into an elite-level pitch beyond initial expectations. His fastball has drawn further comparisons with Pedro Martínez. With a wiry and athletic frame, Carlos Martinez' arm generates enormous speed that dispenses dynamic velocity and movement, reaching up to 100 miles per hour (160 km/h), while situated primarily in the range of 94–96 miles per hour (151–154 km/h).
Martínez maintains fastball fleetness from both the windup and stretch. Because his arm speed generates immense recoil, he finishes off-balance, leaving him in an awkward position to field certain batted balls. His fastball is graded at 70 on a scale of 80, with a volatile life that vaults itself on batters, making it difficult for them to square their bats, and thus, hit effectively. His small stature and long recoil somewhat limit the command, but that is mitigated with the natural explosiveness and movement of the pitch. The sinking version of his fastball can get up to 96 MPH, while averaging 92–93 miles per hour (148–150 km/h).
The curveball Martínez throws is one of his breaking balls, grading at a 50 on a scale of 60. It features either an 11-to-5 or 12-to-6 break and it is very difficult to hit when in top form. The main discrepancy with this pitch is when he gets around on it and finishes with a "looping" effect. His other breaking pitch, the slider, became a fastball alternative go-to pitch in 2013. Also a power pitch, it averages 82.5 miles per hour (132.8 km/h) with −2.16 inches (−55 mm) of vertical break, and has proven to be effective in garnering swing-and-miss strikes.
The changeup was Martinez' secondary pitch throughout his rise in minor leagues. It averages in the mid- to upper-80s MPH and shows some sink at times, and grades at 40 on a 50 scale. However, he also lacked feel and can throw it too firmly. It is especially effective, however, because of his ability to throw it with nearly identical arm speed to his fastball. With the efficaciousness of the fastball and curveball, the changeup is not required in a relief role, but gives a versatile option when starting. Overall, throwing strikes needs to improve, especially down in the strike zone, according to Baseball Prospect Nation. Nonetheless, this could develop into a plus skill. He naturally operates high in the strike zone, so working down will shift the hitters' eye levels in addition to the confounding movement of the fastball and curveball.
Whether there have been any concerns about effectiveness related to Martinez' lack of physical stature, his career minor league numbers have minimized them through 2013. In 327 2⁄3 IP, he has allowed just 14 HR for a rate of 0.4 HR/9. He allowed one home run in 28 1⁄3 IP with the major league club in 2013. His ground-ball rate was above 50 percent in 2012–13, after steadily increasing as he progressed through the minor leagues. It was 52.3% for the Cardinals in 2013. His fly-ball rate has held steady throughout his professional career.
- Leach, Matthew (February 26, 2011). "St. Louis Cardinals pitching prospect Carlos Martinez pitches in U.S. for first time". www.stlouis.cardinals.mlb.com. Retrieved May 4, 2013.
- Leach, Matthew (February 26, 2011). "Cards' Martinez dazzles in first U.S. outing". MLB.com via St. Louis Cardinals official website. Retrieved June 8, 2013.
- Good, Derrick (May 26, 2011). "Martinez has 'big-league stuff, electric arm'". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved June 22, 2014.
- Badler, Ben (June 2, 2010). "Cardinals close to completing $1.5 million deal with top Dominican arm". Baseball America. Retrieved June 8, 2013.
- Speier, Alex (October 23, 2013). "The strange Red Sox history of Cardinals flamethrower Carlos Martínez". WEEI Blog Network. Retrieved June 22, 2014.
- "Profile: Carlos Martínez". Scout.com. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
- "Carlos Martínez minor league statistics & history". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved June 8, 2013.
- Goold, Derrick (June 23, 2011). "Miller, Martínez picked for Futures Game". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved May 4, 2013.
- Goold, Derrick (May 29, 2012). "Martínez still on DL gets promoted to AA". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved June 9, 2013.
- "Cards Notebook: Prospect Martinez still waiting for visa". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. March 20, 2013. Retrieved June 8, 2013.
- Langosch, Jenifer (March 27, 2013). "Martinez finally cleared to report to minors camp". MLB.com via Cardinals official website. Retrieved June 8, 2013.
- Goold, Derrick (May 3, 2013). "Cards call on hot prospect Martinez". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved June 8, 2013.
- DiGiovanni, Joe (May 3, 2013). "Cardinals promote pitching prospect Martinez". MLB.com.
- Palmer, Jordan (May 3, 2013). "Boggs optioned to AAA Memphis, Carlos Martinez called up". ksdk.com. Retrieved May 4, 2013.
- DiGiovanni, Joe (May 3, 2013). "Miller delivers sharp outing to lift Cards over Crew". www.stlouis.cardinals.mlb.com.
- Gleeman, Aaron (May 27, 2013). "Cardinals send Carlos Martinez down to Triple-A". NBC Sports website. Retrieved June 8, 2013.
- McNeal, Stan (August 9, 2013). "Martínez brings the heat in his first major league start". Fox Sports Midwest. Retrieved October 10, 2013.
- Associated Press (September 20, 2013). "St. Louis Cardinals vs. Milwaukee Brewers recap". ESPN.com. Retrieved October 10, 2013.
- "Carlos Martínez statistics and history". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved October 10, 2013.
- Rosenbaum, Mike (November 6, 2013). "Projecting Carlos Martinez's ceiling as an MLB starting pitcher". Bleacher Report. Retrieved July 5, 2014.
- Williams, Craig (March 24, 2014). "Joe Kelly beats Carlos Martinez for Cards' final rotation spot". Sporting News. Retrieved July 3, 2014.
- Langosch, Jenifer (June 22, 2014). "Martinez earns first win as starter as Cards split set". MLB.com. Retrieved June 22, 2014.
- "St. Louis Cardinals at San Francisco Giants – July 3, 2014". MLB.com. July 3, 2014. Retrieved July 3, 2014.
- Langosch, Jenifer (July 3, 2014). "Cardinals find offense, end road swing with victory". MLB.com. Retrieved July 3, 2014.
- Rallo, Curt (June 9, 2011). "Martínez the next Pedro?". MiLB.com. Retrieved July 5, 2014.
- Miklasz, Bernie (May 22, 2013). "'Baby Pedro' is missing". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved July 5, 2014.
- Adams, Steve (May 3, 2013). "Cardinals promote Carlos Martínez". MLBTradeRumors.com. Retrieved July 5, 2014.
- "Scouting report: Carlos Martinez (RHP)". Baseball Prospect Nation. October 22, 2012. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
- Anderson, Mark; Sayre, Bret (May 4, 2013). "The call-up: Carlos Martínez". Baseball Prospectus. Retrieved July 5, 2014.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)