In George We Trust
A(nother) blog about the most storied franchise in sports
Monday, February 06, 2006
Prospect Profile: Mike Martinez
Name: Michael Martinez
Position: RHP
Vitals: 6'2", 195 lbs
Born: April 12, 1981
Hometown: Newport Beach, California
Drafted: 8th round (249th overall) in 2004 (Yankees 10th selection)

Background: The Yankees wanted Martinez so badly, they drafted him twice. He was their 44th selection in 2003 (1318th overall), but instead he opted to return to Cal State Fullerton as a fifth year senior. The decision couldn't have gone better for Martinez, who not only helped Fullerton win the College World Series in 2004, but also improved his draft status upwards 36 rounds. Martinez spent the first 2 years of his college career as an infielder before converting to a pitcher during the 2002 season. He redshirted in 2003 because of nagging injuries, but emerged during 2004 in his first full season as a pitcher to go 8-3 while serving as a swingman. Martinez threw his first career shutout and complete game in June 2004, sending the Titans into the Super Regionals.

Strengths: Martinez is the epitome of a ground ball pitcher as all of his pitches sink. His fastball usually checks in around 87-90 mph with good downward movement. He pounds the strike zone with his heater, and consistently locates it at the bottom of the zone. His changeup is a second quality pitch, and it also features good sinking action. He has a bulldog mentality and isn't afraid to brush a hitter back if he needs to.

Weaknesses: Martinez's biggest weakness at this point is his lack of pitching experience. His breaking ball is rudimentary, and it lags considerably behind his other 2 pitches. Martinez relies heavily on his fastball and pounds the strike zone to a fault at times. The second time through the order, hitters can sit on his fastball knowing it only features average velocity and will be in the zone.

Comparision: Martinez had a decent year in Charleston, where he was one of manager Bill Mosiello's most used arms out of the pen. He led the team with 50 appearances, but otherwise his performance wasn't anything to behold. Here's how his 2005 season compares to 2 college pitchers selected after him in the draft:

Martinez249th overall10.575.372.521.45
Joseph Muro255th overall (TB)12.0612.6410.342.49
Derek DeCarlo256th overall (MIL)9.605.703.521.46

None of the 3 pitchers was overly impressive (especially Muro), but at least Martinez yielded the best K/BB ratio of the trio (2.13 compared to Muro's 1.22 and DeCarlo's 1.62).

Outlook: Martinez's future unquestionably lies in the bullpen, where his sinker/changeup combo will be most effective. His repetoire isn't deep enough to be a starter or longman, and he doesn't have the stuff to be a closer, so he'll fit in somewhere as a middle reliever. He's already 24 and will be 25 around the start of the season, and he has yet to pitch above Low Class-A. He figures to move up to High-A Tampa to open the season, with a promotion to Double-A Trenton to follow quickly if he gets off to a hot start. He could reach the Bronx in 2008 if he continues to improve, but that could be a reach given his struggles during the second half of 2005. He's not a significant piece of the Yankees' puzzle, so he could end up as a throw in as part of a trade before he ever makes the majors.
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