The Houston Astros may have a true gem in Francis Martes.
Long story short: A baseball player, Francis Martes, was acquired from the Miami Marlins in a trade that involved other baseball players. I’m not trying to be lazy, but I don’t want to write about the circumstances surrounding Martes of how he is a member of the Houston Astros organization today. That’s a discussion for another time. Instead, I want to concentrate on the pitcher that is Francis Martes, who happens to be good. Minor league good so far, but good regardless.
Originally hailing from the Dominican Republic, Martes was once considered as nothing more than an interesting arm with promise. He wasn’t highly ranked coming over from the Marlins system, but if more things went right than wrong, then he could end surprising people. Well, let’s say he has done that as the current Astros farmhand ranks second on the organization’s top ten prospects per Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper. That is quite the jump from his 17th overall ranking following the conclusion of the 2014 season, even after all of the trades the Astros have made this offseason that has somewhat depleted their pitching depth.
Standing at 6’1″ and roughly 225 pounds, the right-hander utilizes three pitches: a fastball, curveball, and changeup. His best pitch is most likely his fastball, which currently tops out around 97 to 98 MPH. Next is his curveball, which doesn’t lag too far behind his fastball. The offering has been demonstrated to reach the mid-80’s consistently while possessing good breaking action. And lastly his high 80’s changeup rounds out his impressive repertoire that pairs nicely with his other two offerings. But don’t take my word for it, check out this sequence of pitches with Martes on the mound.
Needless to say, the 20-year old farmhand has the stuff to be successful as he advances through the Astros system. His delivery appears clean while using a traditional 3/4 arm slot. He possesses solid command and control that should only improve over time. And he can use all of his pitches to keep hitters off balance, which makes him even more intimidating on the mound when use in conjunction with effective pitch sequencing. This ability and talent manifested itself in the 2015 season as Martes had considerable success which led to an 8-3 record and 2.04 ERA. Part of that strong showing was from his time pitching at the Class A and A+ levels where he finished with an ERA/FIP split of 1.04/2.78 and 2.31/2.81 between the two levels.
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However, Martes’ success came in only 19 games, 16 starts, and he struggled in his very brief time with the Astros AA affiliate, the Corpus Christi Hooks. But in the long run, that doesn’t mean too much of anything. Martes will more than likely start the 2016 season with the Hooks, and if he adjusts like he did last year, then his continued ascent shouldn’t be disrupted. Starting for the AAA affiliate, Fresno Grizzlies, in 2016 isn’t out of the question at all, despite his young age. And who knows, maybe a spot in the Astros rotation or bullpen in 2017 may be in the works?
The young pitcher will be counted to be a contributor to the Astros major league roster sooner or later. And while the jury is still out on the right-hander, rightfully so, it is definitely reasonable to be bullish on Martes’ potential success this year and beyond. After all, he has a good chance of being very, very good. But only time and results will give us the final answer.
**Statistics are provided by Fangraphs, Baseball-Reference & Baseball America**