Marcelo Martinez signed as an international free agent out of Mexico early last year. The 21-year-old had pitched in the Mexican Pacific Winter League and followed that up with four games for Monterrey in the Mexican League. The Royals tracked him and saw enough to offer him a contract. Martinez started the year in Idaho Falls throwing just 6.0 innings in 2 games before moving to Burlington. In Burlington he made 10 starts throwing 57.0 innings. Martinez got a late season promotion and started one game for Lexington throwing 6.0 innings giving up 3 ER on 4 H, 1 BB, and 9 K.
Now the Royals are poking around the idea of having him skip a level or two going into the 2019 season. He could end up skipping all the way in NWA as the fifth starter. The idea behind an aggressive promotion for Martinez is that he his arsenal has almost fully developed and he needs a more higher challenge than Lexington.
Martinez is 6’2″ and works 88-91 from the left side. He has a little bit of arm side run on the fastball but has really good command with the pitch. He has good command with all his pitches actually, he only walked 14 batters last year. Martinez also throws a very good change up which has been described by the Royals as an out pitch or his go to pitch. He has good arm side movement and deception on the pitch. Martinez also has a very good curve ball. As a hitter, it will move from left-to-right with hard downward movement. From the catcher’s view, it will move from 1 to 7 on the face of a clock. The pitch has good shape and is very sharp. Martinez does a good job of tunneling all his pitches and really keeps hitters off balance.
Martinez had a very good 2018 season. His 2.74 ERA matched up with a 0.99 WHIP. In his 11 starts and 2 relief appearances, Martinez threw 69.0 innings giving up 54 hits, 14 BBs, and had 90 Ks. He had a strike out rate of 11.74 K/9 while posting a minuscule walk rate of 1.82 BB/9 on top of only giving up 7.04 H/9. His FIP was 2.76 while his xFIP was 3.09 at Burlington. This means he pitched to about what was expected of him over the course of the season. His ability matched his results at the level.
Martinez has simple mechanics with an easy leg lift. He keeps his hands stationary in his windup. With runners on he will work between a slide step and leg lift. I thought I saw some knee-to-knee work with runners on as well while watching video but wasn’t sure if it wasn’t just an abbreviated leg lift. The only pick moves I saw were the “I know you’re there” move so it was just a simple throw over.
Martinez led the Appalachian League in ERA and strikeouts. He was named an APPY League All Star as well as winning the August 5 Pitcher of the Week Award.
Martinez had three games that really stand out above the rest. On June 30, Martinez made his first start for the Burlington Royals throwing 5.0 innings allowing one solo home run and a single while walking none and striking out 12. On August 1, Martinez threw 6.0 innings allowing just 1 H, no walks, and had 12 strikeouts. In his next start on August 7, Martinez threw 6.0 innings allowing no hits, 2 walks, and had 10 strikeouts.
Because of his results, his maturity, and his developed arsenal, the Royals are talking about skipping several levels. Martinez is a mature player for his age with poise and confidence. Martinez is ready for a challenge and that may very well be found next season in NWA.
Picture from http://www.naranjeros.com.