Sean Gilmartin entered the 2013 spring training with an outside chance at the No. 5 starter in the Atlanta Braves‘ rotation. He will end spring training back in Triple-A Gwinnett.
The 2011 first round pick out of Florida State looked overmatched in his four appearances in compiling a 7.62 ERA, 1.92 WHIP and allowing opponents to hit .386 off him. He allowed more earned runs (11) than he recorded strikeouts (nine) and gave up five home runs. It is safe to say that Julio Teheran beat out Gilmartin for the fifth spot going away.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez announced on Monday that Gilmartin was being sent to minor league camp and will likely be the pitcher for the Mississippi Braves in their scrimmage against the MLB team on Saturday. That is one last shot to show Gonzalez he’s headed in the right direction, but it will be what he does at Gwinnett in an extended period of time that will go further in his chances to be called up.
Gilmartin was promoted to Gwinnett in 2012, and he finished with a mediocre 4.78 ERA in seven starts. He has yet to prove he can consistently get out hitters at that level or beyond. It is important for him and the Braves he begins to figure that out.
As of right now, if anything happened to the starting rotation, he would be the first choice to get a spot start for the Braves. I can see the Braves acquiring a veteran starter after the roster cuts to add some rotation depth in the minors, but they prefer to go with youth over veterans more times than not.
The left-hander needs to get back to what he does best to maintain his position as the first guy in line. That is having excellent command and location with all four of his pitches. Gilmartin will not wow you on the radar gun, but works both sides of the plate with all his pitches. He features a plus changeup and his slider is his best breaking pitch.
Command is an art that most pitchers master as their careers progress. Gilmartin is still mastering that and can’t rear back to throw a 96 mph fastball when he gets in trouble. He must be more careful and thoughtful with his pitching, which will benefit him in the long run.
Gilmartin endured a rough 2013 spring, and he has some learning to do in the minors to get ready for the Braves. That said, he still has the trust of Gonzalez, as he explained to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. “You love everything about him. His work ethic and the way he goes about his business is off the chart.”
It was a tough spring for Gilmartin. Now he must regroup and determine what went right and went wrong and put that to use at Gwinnett. He could still be counted on for the Atlanta Braves in 2013.