Ethan Martin Scouting Report

Ed. Note: This was originally scheduled to run prior to the start of last night’s Braves-Phillies game, but Eric had trouble getting WiFi at the airport.

Tonight marks the debut of Ethan Martin, a 6’2” righty who was the primary return in the Shane Victorino trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer. Martin has one of the better arms in the system but also has a few issues that could prevent him from pitching as a starter long term. I’m writing this post in the Philly airport, waiting to board for a flight to Florida, so bear with its length, which is considerably shorter than you’re used to seeing from me.

Martin’s fastball will sit 92-95 MPH with some run. He’ll ramp it up to 97 here and there. His arm works well. He’s loose and athletic, and such a clean arm action has certainly contributed to a remarkably durable Minor League career. He’ll also feature a hard slider in the mid to upper 80’s. It’s short and cutter-like most of the time, but here and there he’ll break one off that’s absolutely hellacious. Overall, it’s an average pitch, mostly thanks to its exceptional velocity. Scouts tend to favor his curveball, which he throws a bit less, a more vertically-oriented offering. He lacks a viable change-up.

Despite the athleticism, Martin struggles to repeat his delivery and release point. This leads to below-average control and command. Martin’s pitch count usually tops out around 100 pitches per start and he’ll typically throw about 55 percent of those for strikes. This is the primary reason many feel his eventual role will be in the bullpen. It’s a shame, as he’s been a citadel of perfect health throughout his career. I’m not even concerned about his lack of change-up. Plenty of starters don’t have one.

Aaand they’re calling me to board. I’m more inclined to let Martin start than most others seem to be right now. There’s really nothing to lose and there’s a non-zero chance he figures things out. If he does stick, he’s a back-end starter. In the bullpen, he’s a potential eighth-inning arm with an outside shot to close.

. . .

Bill again. I thought it’d be a good idea to supplement Eric’s post with a few .gifs of some pitches Martin threw last night against the Braves.

Fastball

Curve

Slider

He didn’t throw any change-ups last night.

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32 comments

  1. Larry

    August 03, 2013 11:50 AM

    I hope this kid succeeds, but trading Victorino was a mistake. He is way better than Revere and DYoung. I know Shane is not in his 20′s anymore, but a contract for Shane 13 mil per year until he is 34 gives this team a better chance to win than Revere, DY, Martin, Lindblom, Mayberry, etc. They really missed him this year as he is one of the best defenders in the outfield still. Also his speed, hustle, and everything else he did for this team. The Boston fans already love him.

  2. Ellen

    August 03, 2013 01:50 PM

    Eric, really appreciated the .gifs to help understand what those pitches looked like delivered. Makes watching the game just that much more interesting… (all things considered lately).

  3. Klout

    August 03, 2013 02:17 PM

    @Ellen

    BILL added those Gifs, as he notes above.

  4. Eric Longenhagen

    August 03, 2013 04:36 PM

    Those were Bill’s idea and they’re were friggin awesome.

  5. MattWinks

    August 03, 2013 07:07 PM

    I really wonder what his slider looks like to a batter. There is not a ton of break to it, I almost called it a change up a couple times last night. The arm speed is different which does give it away a little bit

  6. Eric D

    August 04, 2013 07:27 AM

    Larry – can you please back up your statement that Victorino is better then Revere by facts. I’d say 98% of GMs in baseball would take Revere over Victorino going forward. And a 13m a yr contract for Victorino is CRAZY, many baseball ppl scratched their heads at the contract the Sox gave him last past off season. Revere was one of the best hitters in baseball from May 1 until he got hurt and outside of power numbers (8 to 0 in HRs) Revere has put up better numbers this yr. he’s also young and controllable. You’re thinking with your heart not your mind.

    Eric – why is it you feel if he can pan out as a starter that he only has back end of the rotation potential? All the SRs I’ve read have him as a middle to fringe 2 potential and he def showed he has the stuff to be that fringe 2. Just needs to command his offerings.

  7. nik

    August 04, 2013 08:46 AM

    If he cant maintain that 95 velocity for more than 2 innings, maybe he really should be a bullpen arm. Once the velo came down to the 91 92 range he started getting hammered. If only he had a working changeup.

  8. pedro3131

    August 04, 2013 09:17 AM

    hm? Shanf has accumulated 2.9 WAR to Revere’s .9 … We can argue if the salary and age components make one more “valuable” but shanf is having a much better season statistically

  9. NavyJoe

    August 04, 2013 11:13 AM

    Eric D,

    Shane is a much better fielder than Revere; that is not even up for debate. If you go by wOBA, Shane is also more productive at the plate. He is obviously a very good base runner, as well. If he were on the Phils this year, he’d be the second most valuable player after Chase.

    Revere might be better in two years than Shane will be, but he certainly is not better this year and it is doubtful that he will be next year since I am confident that Shane will still be an elite fielder while Revere will continue to be an average one in CF.

    If you go by WAR, Shane has been worth at least $15M this year.

  10. Larry

    August 04, 2013 12:49 PM

    @ Eric D,

    It’s not even close. You can look at almost any sabermetric stat(except OBP this year but it’s close) and you would understand that. However, I’m sure you don’t follow sabermetrics or you would have never have said that. Hey that’s cool, I have no problem with that. So I’ll put it in a more general way.

    Defensively Shane is one of the best outfielders in the game, you’ve seen the multiple gold gloves. Ben Revere will never win one. Even if he gets better at judging the ball and making up ground to catch it, he’ll still have one of the weakest outfield arms in baseball. You might have a better arm than he has, I know I do and I’m being serious.

    Offensively, they may have similar speed but Shane is a way better base stealer just look at the caught stealing percentage.

    Ben, with his speed is the worst .300 avg hitter I’ve seen in a long time. Obviously he has no power, but he rarely gets doubles or triples which is amazing, considering how fast he is. Basically Ben is a singles hitter and that’s it. Shane will always give you a ton of extra base hits.

    As Navy Joe pointed out, he is outperforming his 13 Mil a year contract right now. He will continue to do that unless he gets injured a lot which is possible. Young or old, injuries happen. Both Shane and Ben have been on the DL this year.

  11. Steve

    August 04, 2013 07:11 PM

    I don’t know if I agree that it was a bad trade as Shane needed a change of scenery and I think Martin can be special. The Phillies screwed up by not resigning him as an outfield of Dom, SV and Ben would have been a hell of a lot better than the one we had with Young. Who knows, if they had resigned him and not Adams, where would we be now. Probably somewhere close to what we are but I’d like the team better.

  12. Phillie697

    August 04, 2013 08:23 PM

    Ben Revere’s OPS in May and June… .712 and .801. Those now qualify for one of the best hitters in the league? Man have our standards dropped like our win-loss record…

    July he had a .857 OPS fueled by a ridiculous .413 BABIP. Don’t kid yourself. He is not one of the best hitters in the league.

    @NavyJoe,

    I wouldn’t say Vic is a much better fielder than Revere. Vic’s inflated UZR this year compared to career is because he’s played exclusively in RF this year, not CF. Don’t get me wrong, I would rather have Vic back as well, but let’s not prop him up to be something he’s really not.

  13. Larry

    August 04, 2013 08:58 PM

    “I wouldn’t say Vic is a much better fielder than Revere.”

    After typing that line, you probably didn’t think this through, like usual.

    “Vic’s inflated UZR this year compared to career is because he’s played exclusively in RF this year, not CF”

    I know you love to look at the UZR stat. Wait doesn’t Revere have a negative UZR this year??? lol

    “I wouldn’t say Vic is a much better fielder than Revere.”

    Even if Vic had a normal UZR year, wouldn’t you say Vic is a far superior fielder than Revere???? Judging by UZR???? lol

  14. Dan K.

    August 04, 2013 10:46 PM

    Larry, you need to calm down.

    First of all, your are preaching using Sabr stats, but you have shown you incorrectly gauge how they are used. UZR, like all defensive stats, is unreliable in a single season. Also, yes, a CF playing RF will often put up video game numbers. You shouldn’t be comparing Shane in RF to Ben in CF, you should compare CF to CF or RF to RF. Go look at Revere’s UZR in RF: 17.5 in 761.2 innings. Seems oddly familiar to Shane’s 13.7 in 619.1 innings this year, don’t you think?

    Secondly, focus a little more on reading comprehension than stats. 697 wasn’t saying he disagrees with the sentiment that Shane is the better fielder, he just disagrees with the degree to which you attribute their differences.

    Thirdly, if you need to resort to typing “lol” in order to make your post seem better in any way, you probably need to rethink what you’re typing. Debate is good. Debate often, as it helps people learn. But be an adult about it.

  15. Ryan

    August 04, 2013 11:02 PM

    I’ll say this–Ben Revere is a more valuable player than Shane at this point in their careers, when you take salary and age into account. I’ll take him any time. He was not the problem this season and was a big part of the run at the end of the first half.

    Eric,

    What do you expect to see from a prospect that profiles as an ace/#1 starter? I get the sense that Lee or Halladay wouldn’t profile as aces in their primes based only on scouting reports…due to lack of velocity and pure stuff, but that’s obviously far from the truth.

  16. Larry

    August 04, 2013 11:18 PM

    “You shouldn’t be comparing Shane in RF to Ben in CF, you should compare CF to CF or RF to RF”

    “Secondly, focus a little more on reading comprehension than stats.”

    Are you serious? Maybe you should practice what you preach.

    “Even if Vic had a normal UZR year, wouldn’t you say Vic is a far superior fielder than Revere????

    Dan, do you understand this statement?? This is me saying Vic in a normal year. Since he played CF mostly every year, this is obviously what I am referring to. How is your reading comprehension Dan??? Has Shane not played mostly center field before this year?

    697 was only talking about UZR this year, not other years, so I kept it at one year. Why would I talk about multiple years when he is talking about 1 year??

    “Thirdly, if you need to resort to typing “lol” in order to make your post seem better in any way, you probably need to rethink what you’re typing. Debate is good. Debate often, as it helps people learn. But be an adult about it.”

    I talk to people how they talk to me. This isn’t my 1st post to him as he says insulting things all the time, not just to me. I write “lol” as my way of being insulting back to him. Did you see me post this way to Eric D? Of course not, because he was debating in a friendly way.

    “697 wasn’t saying he disagrees with the sentiment that Shane is the better fielder, he just disagrees with the degree to which you attribute their differences.”

    I knew what he way saying Dan. I basically told him negative UZR to normal Shane UZR is superior, which to me means much better. Again how is your reading comprehension Dan?? Oh one last thing Dan………Lol

  17. Dan K.

    August 04, 2013 11:39 PM

    Larry, you still don’t get it.

    UZR isn’t reliable in one season samples because it fluctuates far too greatly. ALSO, position to position is NOT an apples to apples comparison. Hence why I told you to compare CF to CF or RF to RF, NOT CF to RF. This is not WAR. A CF playing RF will have a higher UZR than a CF playing CF. Hence why Shane’s UZR in years where he plays RF is greater than in years where he plays CF. This is the SAME EXACT SITUATION REVERE FOUND HIMSELF IN LAST YEAR.

    So you can “lol” all you want, but you’re still quoting stats you have proven you are incapable of using correctly.

  18. Dan K.

    August 04, 2013 11:44 PM

    Oh, and just to clear things up a bit more, Larry: UZR/150. Check those stats. Because those stats suggest that Vic is SLIGHTLY better in CF than Revere for their respective careers. But on the other hand, Revere has the edge in RF and OF overall. Plus, you know, Revere is younger and entering his prime, whereas Vic is now outside of his. If you’re going to bet on who is going to be the better defensive player going forward, it would be the safer bet to take Revere.

  19. Larry

    August 05, 2013 12:13 AM

    “Larry, you still don’t get it.

    UZR isn’t reliable in one season samples because it fluctuates far too greatly. ALSO, position to position is NOT an apples to apples comparison. Hence why I told you to compare CF to CF or RF to RF, NOT CF to RF. This is not WAR. A CF playing RF will have a higher UZR than a CF playing CF. Hence why Shane’s UZR in years where he plays RF is greater than in years where he plays CF. This is the SAME EXACT SITUATION REVERE FOUND HIMSELF IN LAST YEAR.”

    Ok Dan, let’s try this 1 more time, OK? I want you to read this carefully. Do not post anything back until you fully understand this.

    Apples to Apples comparison is what I gave you. Revere plays what position this year??

    Answer – Center field where he has a negative UZR this year, which I sated.

    I told 697 to use a normal year UZR for Victorino- That means a year where he played center field, because hasn’t he played center field every year for the Phillies?

    I was comparing Apples to Apples. Hence the line I used:

    “Even if Vic had a normal UZR year, wouldn’t you say Vic is a far superior fielder than Revere????

    Since I chose a normal year for Vic, I was excluding this year. Since 697 was talking about why it was so high this year.

    Now, Do you understand this. Is it getting through now?

    Now Dan you posted this to me:

    “UZR isn’t reliable in one season samples because it fluctuates far too greatly.”

    Then you posted:

    “Go look at Revere’s UZR in RF: 17.5 in 761.2 innings. Seems oddly familiar to Shane’s 13.7 in 619.1 innings this year, don’t you think?”

    So you yourself were making a comparison of Shane’s not even 1 season UZR to Ben’s. You don’t practice what you preach. You say I shouldn’t do something, but in your next post you did exactly what you tried to tell me not to do? hmmmmmmmmm

    Honestly as it has been said many times here, it is best use UZR in a 3 year period.

  20. Larry

    August 05, 2013 12:21 AM

    The real funny part about this Dan, is I don’t believe in the UZR stat. 697 knows that I don’t. I just used it against him, because he uses it like a bible. So I threw his bible stats at him showing that Vic as a Center fielder has a much better UZR than Revere in Center field. That’s the only way he see things. So I put it into his terms.

    UZR is flawed and I could tell you many reason why.

  21. Larry

    August 05, 2013 12:24 AM

    *reasons

  22. Dan K.

    August 05, 2013 12:33 AM

    Larry, I’m only giving you stats that you are using. What I preach is using the correct stats. I cited UZR/150 as MY argument. The rest was a counter to YOUR argument.

    And once again, comparing UZR between different positions is pointless. If Ben was playing RF, he would have a higher UZR than he currently has. You want to talk about a normal UZR for Shane? How about one of the FOUR seasons he had a negative UZR in CF. Ben has a negative UZR for this season, but it is entirely possible he raises it into positive territory before the end of the year.

    But I’m done trying to reason with you. I’ve seen a number of your posts and by and large you have been an unreasonable person.

  23. Larry

    August 05, 2013 12:50 AM

    “The rest was a counter to YOUR argument.”

    That’s what I was doing to 697. You are a hypocrite.

    Don’t ever tell someone what not to do, then do it yourself in your next statement hypocrite.

    Don’t question someone’s reading comprehension when you can’t comprehend yourself. Again you are a hypocrite.

    “But I’m done trying to reason with you. I’ve seen a number of your posts and by and large you have been an unreasonable person.”

    You came at me Dannyboy with some harsh words out of nowhere. Did you not think you were setting up a heated argument?? I never said anything to you before, that I recall and if I did I’m sure it wasn’t harsh.

    BTW Danny, don’t go away mad……….just simply go away.

  24. Eric Longenhagen

    August 05, 2013 09:03 AM

    I’m heading to the backfields at Lee County Sports complex but I want to respond to the two questions directed at me really quickly. First, Eric D:

    I have Martin pegged as a backend guys specifically because I don’t think the command is ever going to come but I hate to waste his durability and loose are in the bullpen.

    Someone also asked about projecting #1 starters. I’m of the idea that you’re not a #1 until you prove it in the majors. I’d never even project Dylan Bundy or Taijuan Walker as a #1. “Top of the rotation” is about as high as I go. Clayton Kershaw is the only guy I can remember ever thinking “this SOB is gonna be a #1″ but I was in high school and just got lucky with that one.

  25. Ryan

    August 05, 2013 12:02 PM

    Thanks for clearing that up…very informative, Eric.

    Dan/Larry:

    Remember how Victorino had some issues with routes and misjudging balls early in his career in CF? I believe that you’re seeing the same thing with Revere and he will fix it over time. I still see Revere as a young Michael Bourn who very similar to Vic value wise. However, Revere’s age and contract make him more desirable to have on the team going forward.

  26. Larry

    August 05, 2013 04:17 PM

    @ Ryan,

    He still has no arm and doesn’t get many extra base hits. I think you and Eric D see a speedy guy with a high average, but as Philie697 stated you have to look at #s like OPS to really evaluate how much he helps this team. I like the energy that Ben brings to the team. If he was surrounded by better players, he would fit in better.

    The Phillies as of 1 week ago were leading the division in batting avg, but only 3rd in runs scored.

    You can prefer having a young Ben Revere, because he has so many more years to give to baseball and he’s cheap. However, why don’t you think a team like the Redsox tried to sign Revere? They are looking to be a champion team and that’s what Shane gives you. Ben is OK, maybe you can even call him pretty good, but pretty good and 1-2 tool players describe most of the Phillies right now. When you lose guys that are 3,4,and 5 tool players like Shane and Werth and don’t replace their value, you can’t expect the Phillies to be a contender.

  27. Phillie697

    August 06, 2013 11:18 AM

    Eric,

    I don’t know, but with those sparkling numbers Cole Hamels had in the minors, I would have projected him with a ceiling of #1 pitcher. So Ryan, go take a look at Cole’s minor league numbers, and that’s basically what you have to do to get that kind of projection.

  28. Dan K.

    August 06, 2013 12:45 PM

    @697,

    I would disagree with that because there is very little point in looking at results in the minors as an indicator of success. Granted, results are never a bad thing, but what is more important in the minors is tools. Cole is a #1 because of his devastating change-up, his command/control, and his other pitches being plus.

    As two recent examples of the opposite end of the spectrum of this, I would point to Chase Utley (sorry for using a non-pitcher) and Julio Rodriguez. Chase didn’t put up eye-popping numbers in the minors. But the tools were always there for him to succeed. JRod put up results, but doesn’t have the stuff to pitch in the majors. Their prospect rankings, and obviously eventual results, reflected their potential based on tools much more than their success in the minors.

    So if you’re looking for an ace in the minors, I would say he needs at LEAST one 7-8 pitch (Hamels’ change), and at LEAST 3 other 6+ pitches, with at least a semblance of control and command of each. Obviously the more polished, the better you feel about giving them that ceiling. Hamels seemed more like a 2 to me in the minors, but he developed further.

    That’s my take on all of this, at least.

  29. Phillie697

    August 06, 2013 01:09 PM

    @Dan K,

    No disagreement with you, but I said “I would have projected him with a ceiling of #1 pitcher.” Notice the word ceiling. There are no sure-fire things when it comes to prospects, but he certainly had the makeup of a potential ace. Good thing for us he actually delivered on that promise.

    I tend to look at hitters and pitchers differently. I think studies have shown that career trajectory of hitters vs. pitchers are significantly different.

  30. Phillie697

    August 06, 2013 01:12 PM

    Oh btw, Julio Rodriguez was no Cole Hamels. Minor league numbers are not just about results. DIPS-related numbers are very important too. Walking 12.6% of batters is not an ace.

  31. Dan K.

    August 06, 2013 02:00 PM

    I, of course, agree that JRod is no Hamels. But to wit, Kershaw had a career 3.7 BB/9 and 11.3 K/9, which aren’t all that far off JRod’s 4.0 and 10.0 respective marks considering the disparity between their skill levels.

    Stats are extremely misleading in the minors, especially for pitchers, because the player is often working on something specific, such as a pitch that needs to be refined. So I would say don’t put much stock in them, and turn rather to scouting reports/the eye test. I posted what I would look for in a potential ace in my last post, but I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with someone looking for different criteria.

    As for the ceiling, I think we just use the label differently. I use it as a reasonable upper-end projection of a player. That is not to say they could not become more, just that it is unlikely. For example, Kendrick’s ceiling was a #5. Then he developed that change out of nowhere which changed his ceiling. Hamels was a two-pitch pitcher. I predicted a third pitch would surface, perhaps being plus, but a 3 pitch mix is more of a 2 ceiling than ace. But adding a plus cutter as well raised his ceiling, but was not something I could have reasonably expected. You can consider it splitting hairs, but that just goes to show how difficult it is to identify an ace in the minors.

  32. Phillie697

    August 06, 2013 02:34 PM

    @Dan K.,

    Except we’re talking about potential aces here. I want BOTH the scouting reports AND the numbers to hold up. If you’re an ace, you should put up numbers that looks like an ace, otherwise you raise doubts about you and you don’t deserve the ace status.

    I don’t think when you’re going to project someone as being the best of the best, wanting the moon is too much to ask for. It’s not like we’re saying if you don’t have an ace potential, we will give up on you or something. Like you said, it’s just a label. No team is going to throw away a prospect that projects as a starter of any kind, be it #1, #2, #3, #4, or #5.

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