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Don’t forget about Carlos Martinez

With Jake Westbrook formalizing a one-year contract extension with the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday, it brings the future of the rotation into focus.

Next season, the major league club will have six experienced starters without Kyle Lohse, whose departure seems more likely given Westbrook’s new deal. The six are Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Westbrook, Jaime Garcia, Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly.

With Carpenter’s health remaining a question as is Garcia’s to a lesser extent, is there enough rotation depth without Lohse?

For that answer, one has to look to the upper minors. The system has three young arms approaching the majors, any of whom could be in a position to become 2013’s version of Joe Kelly, if the need arises.

The biggest success story among pitchers in the organization this year is Trevor Rosenthal. The 22-year-old has successfully completed his first two MLB stints as a reliever and may be ready to compete for a roster spot next season, whether starting or relieving. Rosenthal will likely rejoin St. Louis in September.

Then, there is Shelby Miller. As documented here last week, the 21-year-old has recently been back on track after struggling for much of the season, his first at Triple-A.

Miller rightfully received a lot of positive attention on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon after fanning 12 in seven innings and improving his season ERA to 5.04. He didn’t walk anyone and allowed two runs on a home run, one of his weaknesses in 2012. Not on the 40-man roster, Miller’s chances of making his MLB debut next month are still very questionable.

That evening, another of the organization’s top pitching prospects, Carlos Martinez, pitched for Double-A Springfield. Despite allowing just one run on three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts in six innings, he didn’t receive the same buzz as Miller. In fact, Martinez hasn’t received much attention all year long despite fastball velocity that may top the other two.

The youngest of the three at just 20 years old, Martinez is in just his second season pitching in the US and has made 13 Double-A starts. The biggest concern about him seems to be the perception that he does not pitch deeply into games, perhaps related to his relatively-small frame.

Let’s look into the detail. Following are the stats from the three young right-handers at Springfield – Rosenthal and Martinez this year and Miller last.

Springfield Year Starts IP IP/Start ERA BB K BB/9 K/9 K:BB
Martinez 2012 13 64 1/3 5 2.94 20 52 2.8 7.3 2.6
Rosenthal 2012 17 94 5 2/3
2.79 37 83 3.5 7.9 2.2
Miller 2011 16 86 2/3 5 1/3 2.70 33 89 3.4 9.2 2.7

While Martinez is about at five innings per outing, the other two averaged fewer than two outs more per Double-A start.

Martinez has the highest ERA of the three at 2.94, though he has perhaps two regular season starts remaining. Over the season, with one quarter run fewer allowed per nine innings, Martinez would have erased the gap.

Miller’s Springfield strikeout rate of more than one per inning stands above the other two, with Martinez’ lowest at 7.3/9.

Walks are one indicator of inefficiency. Of the three, Martinez has the lowest base on balls rate per nine innings at just 2.8.

Putting strikeouts and walks together, the gap between Miller and Martinez becomes very narrow, at 2.7:1 versus 2.6:1, with Rosenthal behind at a still-solid 2.2:1.

In my view, Martinez’ Double-A numbers are in the same ballpark as the other two, yet a relative few seem to be talking about him. I hope to change that a bit here.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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33 Responses to “Don’t forget about Carlos Martinez”

  1. blingboy says:

    I forgot about Carlos Martinez.

    Is he likely to start 2013 in the AAA rotation?

    • CariocaCardinal says:

      Really hard to say at this point I think. Will the Cards keep Dickson, who has pitched y very well at memphis, around for insurance? Will Kelly or Rosenthal (or possibly even Miller) be in STL next year? Will the Cards leave Lyons as a starter or try to convert him to a LOOGY while still in the minors. Will Martinez get priority of Mannes who has been at AA longer and has been just as effective? Could Wacha jump to AAA to start the year?

      Mybest guess at this point is that Martinez would not be in AAA to start next year.


      With Kelly either in the major league bullpen or in the Memphis bullpen. I think Mannes might get the call before Martinez as well. but with Martinez still developing he could improve more than some of the others.

      I think the long term question is who gets slotted for the bullpen? Rosenthal? Martinez? Wacha? It will be somebone (or several) for sure. If it is Martinez he could actually open 2013 as the closer for Memphis.

      • blingboy says:

        Appreciate the analysis CC. The pileup of arms will be great, but not the most effective use of the resourse. Something will have to give sooner or later.

        Dickson is hard to predict. 10 innings years over two isn’t much of a look. Until recently, my take was that his time had come and gone. Kind of the Kozma of pitchers. But now he has shown some life. If he is solid in ST, might it make sense to give him a shot? If for no reason other than to increase his trade value. We would have another arm to take his spot.

        I have seen commentary to the effect that we tend to let fringe type guys sit around until their time has passed and their value flatlines. I’d like to see an effort made to showcase some of the excess pitching. If everyone is healthy and ready to go opening day, it would mean parking Lynn in the pen or Memphis. An abomination to be sure, but not without purpose. (I’m already trying out potential talking points for this winter 🙂 )

      • Brian Walton says:

        If Martinez is deemed ready for Triple-A next year, he will not be held back despite the others in the Memphis mix, IMO.

        Kelly, Miller and Rosenthal all spent half-seasons with Springfield before advancing the next spring. Gast went back for a second half-season at Double-A after posting an ERA just over four in his first stint there. Of course, Martinez is younger than them all.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        Martinez has been fortunate to stay out of the limelight during 2012. He has been quietly working on his game and doing well.

  2. crdswmn says:

    A’s pitcher Bartolo Colon failed drug test. 50 game suspension.

  3. blingboy says:

    Another guy who will likely add to the pile next year is Maness, who came out of nowhere. Doesn’t throw hard so he has had to to actually get guys out to get some love. Doesn’t seem to have anything else to prove at AA. Might as well find out if he can finesse and control his was through a AAA lineup, especially the second time through.

    I first started following him when Brian commented somewhere that the coach had to tell him to throw fewer strikes.

    I believe CC called Maness the prospect story of the year in his August rankings article on the main site. As well as bumping him way up the list. I’m interested to see if he stalls out or continues to advance, in CC’s opinion.

    • Kansasbirdman says:

      Maness was SP last night. Looked good in first inning I think it was 3 up 3 down. Then had a bad third where the Naturals plated 7. Team rallied back to 8 and 8 Though Wong was like 3-5.

  4. blingboy says:

    Tonight we only have 5 .300 hitters in the lineup instead of the 6 we had yesterday. In addition to the 6, we also had Freese at .293, I believe, who is not starting tonight. Still, it is time to hand Norris his head.

  5. blingboy says:

    From Strauss chat:

    “The Cardinals are screwed if Furcal breaks down.”

    This was in response to a question of who takes over. Later, it was posited that he is already broken offensively. Strauss’s response was that he performs at a high level defensively.

    Another item mentioned is that Skip’s importance to the clubhouse is often not factored in. He allowed that Skip’s role after this season is a legit question, and he could possibly not be here. He said some veterans would not take that very well. (He didn’t talk like he thought Skip would be gone, but it is possible).

    There is also an interesting few paragraphs on how he sees politics, etc. affecting prospect rankings, and the team’s interest in pushing some over others.

    • crdswmn says:

      Yes, despite my bitching about poor at bats and plate discipline by some of our hitters, I think the problem has been mostly bad luck. It is has to change some time doesn’t it?

    • blingboy says:

      The Cards just failed to move Beltran to third with less than two outs. I don’t think that sort of thing is reflected in the stats. If it was, maybe we wouldn’t be talking about bad luck. Bad execution of offensive fundamentals.

  6. Kansasbirdman says:

    Haven’t checked in in awhile. In Northwest AR right now watching Springfield Cardinals take on the Naturals. Great evening. But good guys losing 7-1 to home team in top of 4th

    • blingboy says:

      How’s little Kansas doing?

    • crdswmn says:

      Kman! Good to see you again. What’s shakin?

      • Kansasbirdman says:

        He’s well with grandparents. Beers are only 6 bucks here. Trying to get a game ball for Kolten Wong to sign.

        • blingboy says:

          $6. I’d have to hold the ball under my chin.

          • Kansasbirdman says:

            Hah. 8-8 now. Tied up

            • Kansasbirdman says:

              The good guys lost in the bottom of the 9th. An errant throw (fielding a bunt) to first passed and allowed runner to go to third and then a single drove in the final run 8-9. The team looked pretty down about the loss, but the S-Cards are 6.5 games up (as of the start of the game yesterday) it isn’t like they are in the Naturals position, like 18 games back or something like that with 13 to play.

              I doubt there were 500 people in the whole park. So we went down to the S-Cards dugout after and my wife got thrown a ball and then we stood in line and asked players to sign. Most were just headed into the locker room head down, but Michael Wacha signed the ball. Good keepsake for young Kansas.

              Next year we will try to take him to a game. Beautiful weather there last night. Great night for baseball.

      • Kansasbirdman says:

        Been following y’all as much as I could, by the time I could read articles and comments I was waaay too late to reply or as often as not, discussion was outa my league. Good to see everyone still here supporting Cardinals and Cardinal Nation.

  7. Nutlaw says:

    Catching the Reds seems even less impossible now that I read that they plan on benching Frazier:

    Gotta love Dusty (as an opposing manager).

  8. blingboy says:

    The plan is for the phillies to do their duty tonight and take down that hack Cueto so we go into the series 7 behind. Then we take all 3 and we’re 4 back heading into Pittsburg. I know the Phills can do it, I love those guys.

    Good to see the second string pen guys turn in good performances. The pen sure looks a lot better.

    • blingboy says:

      The plan is coming together. My friends in Philly toyed with the Walts for a bit, tiring them out, then put them away. Tonight, Lance cleverly made them feel smug and confident so that we can now take advantage of their over-confidence. Nice. Mighty Joe will slam the door. The O will unleash shock and awe.

      Nice job coming around to score by Yadi, proving that speed is overrated.

    • blingboy says:

      We had no trouble with Chapman. Doubt we will. 6 back.

      When is Mighty Joe bobblehead day?

  9. Bw52 says:

    Lynns continued early woes make me wonder if the wrong guy was sent to bullpen.

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