I have had the opportunity to see a handful of teen pitchers in the Northwest League this year and I had the chance to see another one — Jose Martinez — last week. Compared to the other guys I’ve seen, Martinez is not nearly as well known. Going into the start, I had no clue who he was and could find hardly anything online. So who is Jose Martinez? Well he is a right-handed pitching prospect in the Arizona Diamondbacks system. He made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League this year and dominated. He had a 1.72 ERA in 73.1 IP with a 2.7 BB/9 and an 8.7 K/9. He was promoted to short season Yakima on August 24th and made his NWL debut the next day. Unlike some of the other teen pitchers I have seen in the NWL this year, Martinez actually looks like an 18 year old. He’s small and looks very young. His final line on the night was 5IP 4H 3R 3ER 5BB and 5K. He threw a total of 82 pitches on the night. After seeing Martinez though, he is definitely an interesting arm and a name to watch moving forward.
Martinez is listed at 6’1″ 160lb and it looked like an accurate listing. His body has not yet fully matured and I think there is not only room for him to fill out a lot more, but to even add a few inches. He has pretty long legs which is one reason why I think he’ll grow a few more inches as he develops. He has some lankiness to his build and he is very athletic on the mound. He is a projectable arm and I think his body could develop into a durable pitchers build.
There are lots of things to like in Martinez’s arm but also a lot of work to be done in his delivery and mechanics. He has a wiry arm with great arm speed, throwing from a 3/4 arm slot. He needs to work on the consistency of his delivery though, especially with his arm slot and release point. His delivery also is not very smooth and there is a bit too much effort there. The game was at Everett Memorial Field and directly behind it is a football stadium. It’s so close that the teams use the locker rooms of the stadium as the clubhouses. Well after Martinez was pulled, he was on the track of the football field with two coaches working on his delivery. It looked like they were working on simplifying things and his consistency. He had no ball but was just working slowly through the motions. These kind of things can be expected out of an 18 year old, especially one who has not even been pitching professionally for a year.
Martinez’s go to pitch was a raw but promising fastball. He threw 18 pitches in the first inning, all of which were fastballs. It was promising to see him not rely on the pitch solely the rest of the night. His fastball sat 92-94 early on in the game but around pitch 60 it was more in the 89-91 range. Maintaining velocity will be something important for Martinez moving forward but he is still so young and his body still has ways to go before it’s fully matured, that this is not too much of a worry. The fastball had nice late arm side run especially low in the zone. The biggest problem with Martinez’s fastball is his command and control. The pitch was all over the place for most of the night. He was able to get away with it for the most part thanks to his velocity and movement. At times, he flashed moments where he commanded the pitch well and it looked to be a very promising pitch. Better command and control should come with maturity and I think that improving his mechanics and delivery will go a long way. The pitch flashed above average potential and could develop into a plus pitch if he can really get control of the pitch and maintain the mid 90s velocity. I would not be surprised if he added a few ticks to the pitch either as he fills out more.
Martinez featured 3 secondary pitches, the best of which was a nasty curveball. Te pitch sat 76-79 MPH and he had pretty good control of the pitch. He got a good amount of looking strikes and also got swings and misses. It had hard, downward action with good depth and was a legit 12-6 curve. At times it got a little slurvy or he did not get over the pitch, but for the most part, he had the pitch working for him all night long. He had a good feel for the pitch and was not afraid to throw it when behind in the count. His curve is already an above average pitch when it is on and it could develop into a plus offering.
Martinez also threw a slider, though not in the same class as his curveball, that showed promise. The pitch sat 81-84 MPH and had good sweeping movement and at times, solid two plane break. He did not command the pitch very well though and did not have the best feel for it. He only threw it about 5 times. This pitch has the potential to be an average pitch and maybe even more if he gets a better feel for it and commands it well as he develops.
When evaluating a pitching prospect, I love to see a good change up. For Martinez though, he threw his change up twice and there is a lot of work to be done. The pitch came in at 81 MPH and was not very deceptive. It had some fade, but not much else and both times he threw the pitch were for balls. Though I only saw it twice, it looked to be a below average offering. He still has a long road ahead of him with plenty of time to work on and develop his change.
Heading into the start, I had absolutely no idea who Jose Martinez. After though, he is certainly on my list of prospects to watch moving forward. He could have two above average and maybe even plus offerings in his fastball and curve. His slider also could be an average pitch and maybe slightly more and it would be huge if he was able to develop his change up, giving him a legit 4 pitch mix. Martinez is very raw though and there is a lot of work to be done. The delivery needs work and his command has a long way to go. With that being said, Martinez is an exciting arm with projectablity and potential and could jump onto the prospect map next year when more people get to see him pitch in the U.S. If you’re a prospect fan always looking for a new interesting name, it’s time to add Jose Martinez of the Arizona Diamondbacks to that list.