Nick Martinez Scouting Report: Texas Ranger righthanded pitcher Nick Martinez ranked #15 on the LSB Community Prospect Rankings.
In the days leading up to Opening Day, I'm going to offer write-ups on the 31 players who made the Rangers' LSB Community Prospect Rankings Top 31. I've done this the last couple of years, and I don't want to re-invent the wheel, so some of this will be a repeat of what I've written before, particularly regarding draft history or performance pre-2013. Also, this is not based on my personal observations -- I'm not a scout, and haven't seen most of these guys. I'm just aggregating the numbers and what others say about these players.
So, with that out of the way, let's take a look at Nick Martinez...
Nick Martinez is a 6'1", 195 lb. 23 year old righthander who spent most of his college career at Fordham University as an infielder, but was drafted in the 18th round of the 2011 draft by the Rangers, who converted him to pitching. Martinez started his professional career pitching for the Rangers' complex league team, throwing 19 innings over 6 games before being promoted to Spokane in the Northwest League, where he logged another 39 innings. Overall, Martinez ended up striking out 56 batters in 58.2 innings in 2011, walking 18, allowing no home runs, and putting up a 2.30 ERA.
Martinez spent the 2012 season in low-A Hickory, and on the surface, he didn't have much of a year. Martinez put up a 4.83 ERA in 117.1 innings over 31 games (20 starts), striking out 109, walking 37 and allowing 8 homers (among 121 hits). However, there were positive signs, particularly given that Martinez was in his first full season as a starter, and he put himself on the radar with some of the prospectphiles out there.
One of those who took note of Martinez's 2012 campaign was TepidP, who i.d.'d him as someone to watch heading into the 2013 season. Tepid did a Q&A with Martinez a little over a year ago, talking to him about his background and his goals for the 2013 season.
2013 ended up being a breakout year for Martinez. Starting the year at high-A Myrtle Beach, Martinez was terrific for the Pelicans, putting up a 2.87 ERA in 119.1 innings, striking out 105 batters, walking 38 and allowing just 5 homers. His performance got him invited to the Carolina League All Star Game (the photo above is from that game) and earned him a late season promotion to AA Frisco, where he allowed just 6 runs in 32 innings over 5 appearances, putting up a 1.12 ERA. Overall, Martinez had a 2.50 ERA on the year in 151.1 innings, and while his peripherals didn't change much between 2012 and 2013, he dramatically reduced his hits allowed, giving up 4 fewer hits in 2013 despite throwing 34 more innings.
Martinez has a starter's repertoire, throwing a low-90s fastball, slider and changeup, and getting a lot of ground balls. As one would expect from a pitcher of his experience level, Martinez still needs to improve his secondary pitches, but he's someone who, if he can build on his successful 2013 campaign, could establish himself as a potential starting pitching option for the Rangers in 2014 or 2015.
Martinez is likely going to start the 2014 season at AA Frisco, joining the more heralded Chi Chi Gonzalez and Luke Jackson, former first round picks who have a more impressive pedigree than Martinez. Still, don't sleep on Nick Martinez...he's a guy who could find himself in the mix for a callup if the Ranger rotation needs reinforcements, and who could be a nice back-end starter for a decade or so in the bigs if it all comes together for him.