Philadelphia Phillies Prospect Countdown #8: Ethan Martin
24 years old (June 6, 1989)
6’2″ 195 lbs.
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Ethan Martin has electric stuff – a mid-90’s fastball and a devastating, over-the-top, 12-to-6 curveball. The fastball can touch 98 mph at times. His slider is a solid pitch as well, although it acts more like a cutter. Martin has been a strikeout-per-inning pitcher throughout his professional career. Big, strong body – perfect size for a pitcher. Good athlete. Has excellent arm action. Can just as easily overpower hitters with the fastball as he can with the drop-off-the-table curveball.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
This is where Martin runs into trouble and why the Los Angeles Dodgers gave up on him so quickly.
Martin lacks command most of the time – even with the fastball. He has a maximum-effort delivery and can easily struggle with his mechanics. That is when he can completely lose the strike zone. Averaged just a shade under six walks per nine innings with the Phillies in 2013. That number is simply not acceptable.
He also tends to struggle in the middle innings as a starting pitcher. Opposing teams teed off on him the second time through the lineup. Much of that has to do with the fact that he is primarily a two-pitch pitcher.
With some work, the future for Martin could be bright, but it will most likely be as a reliever and not as a starting pitcher. New pitching coach Bob McClure will have some work to do this spring. Martin’s primary goal should be to sharpen his command. As soon as he starts peppering the strike zone on a more consistent basis, he has the potential to be one of the elite relief pitchers in the National League.
His arsenal screams ‘closer-in-waiting.’ If Martin can cut his walks in half, he can be a devastating arm coming out of the bullpen in late-inning situations. To get to that point, he has to settle down his mechanics to where he can repeat his delivery on a consistent basis. Then, and only then, can manager Ryne Sandberg trust him in pressure situations.
In my view, McClure, who has an excellent track record in working with high-upside pitchers, will be a positive influence for Martin. It would come as no shock if Ethan Martin is pitching the eighth inning come July. If that’s the case, Jonathan Papelbon‘s days will be numbered.