Phillies call up Ethan Martin

The Phillies are calling up Ethan Martin to make his major league debut on Friday.  The reports are Cliff Lee will not be ready to go and Martin represents the best option in the minors.

Martin was acquired for Shane Victorino at the 2012 trade deadline and was the 15th pick in the 2008 draft.  So far this year in AAA he is 11-5 with a 4.12 ERA with 67 BBs and 107 Ks over 115.2 IP.  He has pitched much better of late but walks are still an issue.

Martin will bring a fastball that sits plus velocity (93-95) but he can show plus plus when needed.  The curveball has been a plus pitch in the past and can flash plus plus.  The slider is an average pitch with potential.  At this point the changeup is a dream and not a usable pitch.  Martin has the stuff to dominate if he can keep the ball in the zone.  If he loses feel for his secondary offerings he has the tendency to overthrow the fastball and lose his delivery.

About Matt Winkelman

Matt is originally from Mt. Holly, NJ, but after a 4 year side track to Cleveland for college he now resides in Madison, WI. His work has previously appeared on Phuture Phillies and The Good Phight. You can read his work at Phillies Minor Thoughts

40 thoughts on “Phillies call up Ethan Martin

    1. Yeah, you’d think. Maybe they know they’re out of contention and are trying to get a look at a guy that has actual ML potential. They must figure Cloyd is a known AAAA quantity at this point.

      1. They could have just moved Pettibone up a day since the Phillies had Monday off, and then used Cloyd on Saturday.

          1. I think they have to look at him closely – he’s their best minor league righty starter above Lakewood (which says more about the state of pitching in the system than it does about Martin, but still).

  1. This is probably the best Martin has pitched this year in AAA. He has thrown the ball really well in his last 4 starts. He is still walking too many though.

    24IP 15H 4ER 10BB 28K

  2. Matt – perhaps you’ve seen Martin in person, but I have seen a number of his starts on video and depart a little (not much) from your analysis.

    First, from what I’ve seen, Martin has made tremendous strides this year – his starts in April (he was all over the place and lacked composure) look nothing like his recent starts. This is not just a statistical judgment but also a qualitative judgment – from what I’ve seen his command and composure are markedly improved, as are his secondary pitches.

    On the stuff, I view the fastball to be well above average and sometimes sitting plus. I haven’t seen a plus plus fastball from him, but perhaps it’s there (I definitely got the sense he was working not to overthrow, so maybe when he lets loose it will improve). Fastball command has been average at best. Your read on the curve (a slow, big breaking pitch) is dead on – a great pitch, almost rivaling the one thrown by Biddle, but not quite. But the slider he throws is a very good pitch, sitting around plus and sometimes flashing plus plus. He has many swings and misses on the slider, which is thrown quite a bit harder than his curve.

    Martin is very talented and has not quite gotten the recognition around here he deserves for a variety of reasons, perhaps because it is extremely unclear how good he will become. Martin’s floor is probably as a AAAA pitcher or, more likely, a 7th inning reliever. His ceiling is a #2 or #3 starter. When I watch him pitch, I think about Edwin Jackson – a very solid 3 who has the ability to dominate on occasion but also completely fall apart on occasion. Another comp would be a young Brett Myers. Don’t kid yourself, Martin is trying out for the rotation this year or next and the Phillies might even be showcasing him for a trade.

    1. Can’t disagree, my notes are a little out of date, thanks for the update.

      My biggest concern is the changeup. I know he has one but it really is not a major league pitch. The fastball-curveball-slider combination can work but you have to throw everything for strikes and be able to set hitters up. If I was a betting on it I think he is a back of the bullpen reliever (setup/closer) who can go get you 2 shut down relief innings against top competition.

      If he can be a starter he has more upside than Pettibone and helps the trade Kendrick and Lannan camp and makes Pettibone a trade piece.

    2. For the season, Martin has 5.2 BB/9. Take away April when he walked 20 in 22.1 and his BB/9 falls to 4.5. Still not good but he’s looked better which he successive month particularly in the H/9 area. To me, the fact that he’s been better, even marginally so, which each successive month signals a fairly successful first stop at AAA.

      I’m sure he’s a candidate for the rotation next season though I say that quite loosely. Would much prefer to see him get a dozen starts at LV next season before determining what the next move is.

      1. 4.19-5.2+ BB/9 range is pitchers like Marquis, Hector Santiago, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Edinson Volquez. Even if their peripherals aren’t great, we’d certainly take that at the back of the rotation. He really needs to get his BB/9 under 4, because that’s when you’re talking about pitchers like Gio Gonzalez, Cahill, Lincecum, Gallardo, CJ Wilson.
        5.2 BB/9 is considered awful by Fangraphs. Average is 3.3 BB/9.

      1. I don’t think so. He has too much upside and needs too much additional refinement not to get regular, predicatable work. The regular starts this year have, by all appearances, done wonders for him – he’s really not that far away from being a very nice find. He’s a sleeper to be sure and if he improves as much in the next half year as he has since the season began, he might turn into something really good.

          1. Yeah, its definitely possible, but from an asset management standpoint, I’m not really a fan of that move. I don’t think it matters where Martin attempts to hone his command, whether its AAA or the majors, so why use up some of his ML service time? Especially when you have to kick out a passable guy whose under team control next year to do it.

  3. Does his velo really sit at 93-95 or touch 93-95. Maybe the LHV gun is slow but I saw a lot of 90-91 registers. Maybe that was a 2 seamer but definitely didn’t see the velo I had expected.

    1. LHV gun is usually 1-2 MPH slow. I would say Martin sits around 92-94 or 95, touching 96 or 97 on rare occasions. By the way, and I’ve learned this the hard way, don’t rely on the velocity readings in his MLB debut as to how hard he will throw in a regular start, some guys are very fast on the first go (Bastardo sat at 94-96) and others are notoriously slow (DeFratus struggled to hit 92). But, yeah, if he’s sitting 95-97, it certainly is a good sign. When you think about it, Martin was very good compensation for Victorino – that they got other guys is just gravy.

        1. You’re not, you’re making my point. Velocity of pitchers in MLB debuts can differ, sometimes radically, from their typical velocity. Sometimes it’s an increase (Bastardo, Ramirez), and sometimes it’s a decrease (DeFratus).

  4. Could Martin have been a reason they weren’t more interested in the Red Sox pitchers? I couldn’t believe they wouldn’t accept the “4 of the top 3-10” offer, but maybe Ruben saw Webster & Barnes as redundant with Martin around. Rube claims his job is to “fill holes”; an approach which could lead to such an assessment.

    1. They would have been redundant pieces anyway with Morgan and Biddle and the major league guys. So you are looking for trade value and Webster and Barnes are flawed #3 starters, and that has value but not the kind you can turn around to get your next piece with.

    2. Gammons said the Red Sox wouldn’t include any of their top 10 guys if they had to pay all of Lee’s contract. This sounds like the whole Lee to Boston was never going to happen.

  5. It will be nice to get to watch Martin live instead of just box score “scouting”. I really wish I was more conveniently placed to watch Phils minor leaguers. If only they were able to get the Wilmington Blue Rocks instead of the stupid Royals being affiliated with it.

    1. Chris, you can watch the guys in Lehigh pretty effectively by acquiring the MILB minor league TV package (about $40 a year for all games – and they are all on video archive so you can see any previously televised game at any time – pretty sweet). All the games are televised and most have good feeds (Lehigh is an especially good feed and looks very much like a major league televised game complete with radar gun readings on the pitches). That’s how I scout the guys in AAA – I’ve never even attended a Lehigh game in person (somehow, I always end up in Reading).

      1. I’ll have to look into it for next year. Still I’d like to be able to go to a Phillies affiliate minor league game with ease in person.

  6. General manager Ben Cherington edged a little closer to the truth.

    “I think when you get to Triple-A, there’s no such thing as a prospect,” he said. “You’re part of the major league depth, you’re part of the major league roster. So anybody down there could be up here the next day, if anything happens.”

    Scary about what that says about our 40 man depth.

    1. Sorry but Why not just say you think Pawtucket has more and/or better MLB ready players than Lehigh if that is the point? Cherington’s comments are pretty much partly ambiguous and partly captain obvious.

      It’s not really news about Phillies 40 man depth and you don’t really wave much of a magic wand although Asche and Franco have been moving through fast.

      Boston isn’t exactly swimming in young pitching yet on the big club or at Pawtucket. Their best pitching prospect might actually be Henry Owens who is at single A (he was last time I looked anyway which was last week). Their other pitching prospects besides Owens (and he emerged more this year so he’s not quite a lock although I would like to have him) aren’t that significantly better than what we have – Gonzales, Biddle, Martin. They may have a little more quantity than us.

      Their system is better right now , any system with Bogaerts as the top prospect is going to look better (at least we have Franco) and they do have some quantity at maybe slightly higher levels than we do but I haven’t studied it THAT closely. We have Quinn and Crawford for example.

      I might like JBJ a little better than Revere. They have Cecchini, we have Asche (I used Franco up).

      1. It is Captain Obvious. If you replaced LV’s Team with Pawtucket, we’d actually be treading water. Ben Revere goes down. Jackie Bradley, it’s your time (not Mike Martinez). RP’s aren’t getting the job done, we have experienced bullpen depth (Contrares), Catcher goes down, we have someone other then a punch and judy Quintero to actually provide something other than someone who just catches a the ball and throws it back to the pitcher.

  7. I remember the radio guy for the iron pigs saying that Martin added a two-seam fastball this year, and was working on it all season.

  8. Stupid question, but why does the link say tuffy-gosewich-recalled when this is his major league debut?

    1. Anytime a player is called up from the minors(whether it be his first time or not) they call it “recalling”.

      1. Anyway, it is good to see Tuffy getting a chance in the majors. He is just about 30 years old, but he is certainly having a better season than any of our catchers or top catching prospects.

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