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Know Your Prospects: Joe Martinez, RHP, Giants

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Following your heart is often followed by getting fired. In the life of a professional baseball scout, that’s the harsh reality of the business. In these days of million dollar contracts for high school and college draftees, there’s no room for error. You better pick a guy based on research and on statistics, but certainly not because of how you feel.

Well, this is a story all about feelings: feelings about a prospect, more concisely, feelings about a prospect’s future based mostly on intangibles.

I’ll never make it as a baseball scout. And I’m fine with that.

Joe Martinez gets hit in the head.The San Francisco Giant’s Joe Martinez is a fringe prospect at best. According to Baseball America, he was the team’s 30th best prospect heading into the 2009 season. Despite pitching well in Low, High, and Double-A ball, Martinez is best known for getting drilled in the head by a Mike Cameron line drive earlier this season. If it weren’t for that moment, Martinez wouldn’t even be a blip on the prospect radar.

But I get a good feeling about Martinez.

I saw him pitch in his first game. And while the results weren’t particularly impressive (2.0 innings pitched, 2 earned runs), I got a glimpse of something I liked.

Martinez’s pitch selection is perfect for the hitter-friendly confines of San Francisco’s AT&T Park. He throws a nasty 86-88 mile-per-hour sinking fastball that induces a lot of grounders and double plays. And while the sample size is simply too small to show how the pitch will translate during extended major league experience, he allowed just six home runs in 148 innings pitched last year at Double-A Connecticut. In 163 innings pitched the year before, he gave up just 11. And with AT&T’s infamous Triple’s Alley, the less fly balls, the better.

Martinez also features a league average curveball and a changeup that also profiles as a plus pitch. And while it’s totally unfair to compare anything to Tim Lincecum’s change, Martinez’s offering has the same diving, dipping movement, making it appear almost like a slider. Martinez is stingy with walks, too, allowing just one through 7.2 innings this season.

Martinez pitches.His motion is easily repeatable and he’s proven to be extremely durable, pitching 547 innings through four minor league seasons.

But what impressed me most about Martinez is his mound presence. He exudes a quiet confidence, confidence in his stuff and confidence in the defense behind him. Martinez doesn’t nibble and relies extensively on his stuff to get him out of jams.

On August 5, Martinez earned his second career win in his first MLB career start. The line wasn’t exactly shimmering (5 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 4 SO, 0 BB), but considering it was Martinez’s first appearance since fracturing three bones in his face and suffering a severe concussion, it was an amazing feat. He pitched without fear, as if what happened on April 7 didn’t even happen.

Martinez’s stuff profiles him as nothing more than an able fifth starter. Still, a fifth starter with confidence and good stuff can do amazing things.

Is it so wrong for me to believe Joe Martinez can do more?

2 Responses

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  1. tracking back Know your prospects: RHP, Giants, Joe Martinez… tracking back Know your prospects: RHP, Giants, Joe Martinez…

    August 7, 2009 at 6:38 pm

  2. Good article.

    One error, The Mike Cameron line drive to the head happened on April 9th not April 7th.

    Keep up the good work.


    June 14, 2010 at 5:55 pm

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