Considered the St. Louis Cardinals second-best pitching prospect–a slight notch ahead of Trevor Rosenthal–and third ranked overall farmhand is Carlos Martinez.
You may have heard his name mentioned a few times, mainly due to the fact that he hasn’t yet arrived to Cardinal camp in Jupiter, FL. Martinez, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, is trying to obtain a work visa with no timetable established for his arrival. Regardless, Martinez wasn’t considered ready for the majors, but it still would have been nice to see what he had to offer.
Back in 2009, the Boston Red Sox had an issue signing Martinez in 2009 as they were unable to obtain the proper paperwork to complete a deal. The Cardinals took a chance on him in 2010 spending weeks to gain control of his working rights to sign him to a deal
Even if the 21-year-old is able to obtain his visa prior to the completion of spring training, he may not participate.
Despite that, Martinez is a top 50 Major League Baseball prospect and should challenge Shelby Miller for the status of future ace for the Cardinals staff. Martinez has a blistering fastball–hitting 98 occasionally– to go with a nasty curve and changeup; both could develop into plus-pitches. His debut in the Dominican Summer League produced 12 starts which resulted in a 0.76 ERA, 0.71 WHIP and a .144 BAA.
Martinez got knocked around a bit jumping from Low-A to High-A ball in 2011 posting a 5.28 ERA with an uncharacteristically high 1.72 WHIP. He settled back down on his second try in 2012 which got him promoted to Double-A where he started 14 games. He dropped over 2 K/9 innings which shows he still has some work to do facing the more experienced hitters. However he did end with a strong 2.90 ERA and a good WHIP of 1.18 while holding hitters to a .237 BAA.
As long as Martinez can straighten out his visa issues, his ceiling in 2013 may only be Triple-A with an outside shot at of a late-season appearance with St. Louis. Make no mistake, Martinez should become a great pitcher for the Cardinals.