As most of you know, St. Louis Cardinals prospect Carlos Martinez was promoted from Low-A Quad Cities to High-A Palm Beach this week. His first start yesterday went well: six innings, four hits, two runs, four walks, seven strikeouts. The strikeouts are great to see, the walks not so much, though command wobbles are to be expected from a 19-year-old power pitcher.
Someone asked me what my sources in the Midwest League thought about Martinez. I was hoping to get over to Quad Cities and see him myself, but he got promoted before I had a chance to do so.Basically my sources say that Martinez looked really damn good most of the time, throwing 95-97 MPH consistently and topping at 98-99. He throws that fastball with little apparent effort. He can spin a strong curveball, but his changeup is erratic right now. That should get better with time.
Certainly there was little wrong with his statistics at Quad Cities: 2.33 ERA in eight starts, 50/14 K/BB in 39 innings, 27 hits, 2.21 GO/AO, just one homer allowed. I love the strikeouts/grounders/low hit rate trifecta. His command needs to improve, but again that is far from a serious concern at this age. Personally I would have left him in the Midwest League for two more starts, make it 10 starts even at that level, but that's my obsessive compulsive statistical disorder talking. I hate it when stat lines get all broken up. It looks bad on the baseball card.
Someone asked about a grade. I gave him a Grade B- in the book this year and have no problem raising that to a B+ based on what we currently know. He could get to A- if he pitches well at Palm Beach, but I would likely hold off on a pure Grade A for now. I haven't thought about exact rankings on a prospect list at this point, and I don't do in-season rankings (too much can change too quickly), but as a B+/possible A- he's a candidate for the Top 20 pitchers at least.