Looking into the Marlins’ Groundball Pitchers: Cristhian Martinez

Next on the list is a man who saw some major league playing time for the Marlins this past season: Cristhian Martinez.  Obtained by the Marlins in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft prior to the 2007 season, Martinez wasn’t thought of as much of a prospect at all and finding any information on him was very difficult.

Last season, at age 27, was his 7th season of pro ball but his first season above the A-level. He performed well for Jacksonville though, putting up a 2.94 ERA in 17 games (16 starts) and was named the Marlins Minor League Pitcher of the Year.  His time up in the bigs wasn’t so hot though, as he put up a 5.13 ERA in 15 games (26 innings). However, his peripherals were very promising, with a 2.25 K/BB, 56% GB rate, and 0.68 HR/9.  This lead to a 3.52 tRA, 3.63 FIP, and 3.99 xFIP.

He’s likely unable to sustain the 56% rate, but his batted ball data in the minors is 51% GB rate, 18% LD rate, and 31% FB rate, which is still very good.  His minor league peripherals have to be taken with a grain of salt though, as he has been old for his league every single year he has played pro ball.  So we cannot make a Trahern-like comparison to league-average, but for him we do have projection systems.  CHONE calls for a 5.28 K/9, 3.18 BB/9, but a massive 1.32 HR/9 in 21 starts (4.99 FIP).  If he sustains his 31% FB rate, that’s a very high 13.5% HR/FB%.  For Dolphin Stadium, you expect around a 10.5% HR/FB.  Putting him there drops his HR/9 to a league-average 1.04 rate, dropping his FIP to 4.59. That would make him a decent back of the rotation starter, worth about 1 WAR over a full season.

Considering his lack of upside, he likely won’t sniff the rotation given how many high-upside SP the Marlins currently hold.  If he’s to appear in the major leagues again, it will likely be as a reliever.  If he’s able to sustain his above-2 K/BB that he had last year, he should sit around the 4 ERA range, making him about an average reliever that can eat multiple innings.  If the Marlins wish to push Badenhop into more high-leverage situations, he could fill in as the long reliever very nicely.

He’ll probably start the year in NOLA, coming up because of injury or ineffectiveness.  However, he’s also likely one of the first people that will be cut from the 40-man roster if room is needed due to his age and low upside.  For a player that was viewed as nothing but minor league filler prior to last season though, he could still have some value somewhere on a major league roster.

Tags: Cristhian Martinez Miami Marlins

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