December 19, 2014

Will Ethan Martin Break Out in 2010?

San Bernadino is not exactly the epicenter of excitement in Southern California. Sure, they have the WBC Legends of Boxing museum there…and Cal State San Bernadino…and…umm…

…Ethan Martin.

The Inland Empire 66ers have been steadily tinkering with Martin since he made the move to single-A in California under the guidance of veteran pitching coach Charlie Hough. Martin’s outings this year have gone one of two ways…either spectacular or crap. Not a lot of “so-so” in Ethan Martin games this year.

This past Thursday was no exception, except that Martin was very, very spectacular – pitching a 3-hit shutout while walking only two and racking up 9 Ks in the process. This was on top of six shutout innings from his previous outing. If that’s not enough, Martin worked in a change-up into his repertoire on Thursday (he already has a solid fastball and curveball) after the 66ers took a 4-run lead that seemed to bolster his confidence more.

So Will Martin really get his shot to break out in 2010? My guess is no. Here’s why:

The Dodgers are not the Arizona Diamondbacks. They have lots of depth when it comes to pitching and they know it. Their winter development program shows that they are taking a measured approach to exposing their top prospects to the organization and have the patience to do the level of grooming they believe is necessary to get true long-term value out of many of these players.



Logan White’s interview with Tony Jackson back in January shed some interesting light on how the Dodgers are looking at these guys.

“We actually have 15 guys who are 95-plus with good deliveries and mechanics,” White said. “Now, I know how attrition works, and all 15 of them aren’t going to pitch in the big leagues. But I guarantee you that five or six of them are all going to be ready in the next couple of years to push each other for jobs. When that happens, it’s going to be tough to figure out who makes the team and who doesn’t. I can honestly tell you we have guys who have better deliveries, better arm action and probably better stuff than [Chad] Billingsley and [Jonathan] Broxton had at the same age.

“That next wave is coming, and we have some strong position guys coming, too.”

    Ned Colletti

Ned can be very stubborn when it comes to managing his prospects. He is generally reluctant to trade them away for current major-league prospects. Ely is showing he can add to the pitching rotation in more than just as a stopgap for the team and the overall performance of the team in May has the Dodgers contending for first in the NL West on a continuous basis. Quite a stark change from a month ago. Colletti simply isn’t under any pressure to move guys up through the minors in a rapid fashion.

    Single-A Ball is Not AAA Ball.

Let’s face it – Ethan Martin might look good in San Bernadino, but Single-A ball (even advanced Class A) is far from the “almost ready for the majors” or “can’t quite fit on the 40-man roster” scenario that defines AAA ball. Martin’s performance thus far indicates his capabilities are developing but stability is an issue. I’d guess that we might see a move up a class to AA Chattanooga if the stars align and the Dodgers look to move up some folks to cover the hole left by Ely. Also, as Martin increases his pitch type he’s bound to have a few outings where he gets shelled in the name of development (I doubt that change up is ready for prime time after only one strong outing).

Martin’s interview with Chris of during the Winter Development Program was capped off by his own description of what success looks like for him this season:

“Just to go out and try to stay healthy and get my innings in and compete in every single outing I have. My main goal last year was to just compete and learn my mechanics. I think I’ve got a hold of my mechanics…they’re not perfected, but I just want to go out and put out a strong outing every single time I walk out on the mound.”

Martin’s not quite there yet, but his progress looks promising – Ned Colletti and Logan White can sleep well in the meantime with the knowledge that they don’t have to rush him towards what will hopefully be a strong career in the majors.

Dodgers’ Winter Development Program Offers Valuable Lessons for Top Prospects

I had a chance to attend part of the Dodgers’ third annual Winter Development Program this afternoon at Dodger Stadium.  In essence, this is training for the organization’s top prospects in what it takes to be successful as a Los Angeles Dodger (both on and off the field).  Activities in this intensive ten-day program include workouts with coaches and major league players, seminars, visits from Dodger legends and community visits.

Participants included pitchers Chris Withrow, Josh Lindblom, Javy Guerra, Kenley Jansen, Aaron Miller, Ethan Martin, Armando Zerpa, Carlos Monasterios, John Ely and John Link.  Attending position players included A.J. Ellis, Russell Mitchell, Dee Gordon, Andrew Lambo, Trayvon Robinson, Kyle Russell, Matt Wallach and Jesse Mier.

While I was out at Chavez Ravine today, I also saw Ramon Troncoso and Blake DeWitt working out, and Matt Kemp was reportedly at the facilities yesterday.

Following the workout, I had a chance to catch up with a few of the team’s top prospects, including shortstop Dee Gordon, pitcher Jon Link, converted pitcher Kenley Jansen and pitcher Ethan Martin.  Following are a few quotes:

Shortstop Dee Gordon (Topps Minor League Player of the Year, Dodgers’ Minor League Player of the Year, Midwest League Prospect of the Year, and league co-Most Valuable Player)

On His Favorite Part of the Winter Development Program: “I love the Dodger legends.  To hear some of their stories from Sweet Lou (Johnson), Tommy Davis, Maury (Wills), Aaron Sele, Tim Wallach and Steve Garvey.  Those guys have some great stories for us.”

On His Goals for the Upcoming Season: “Win a minor league championship.” (Gordon was very serious when he said this – I loved the competitive fire inside his soft-spoken voice)

Pitcher Ethan Martin (Dodgers’ 2008 #1 Draft Pick)

On the Winter Development Program: “It’s great.  A great experience.  This is the second time I’ve been in LA and love the city.  It’s just great to be here around the older guys in the organization, but then you got McDonald, DeWitt and all of them that have been up here to  experience this, and it’s just great to see and learn from them.”

On Spending Time with the Dodger Legends: “That was amazing.  Just hanging out with them and hearing all of their stories.  It’s something you dream about.  When you’re growing up, you see all these stories and watch all of this stuff on TV about them, and then all of a sudden you’re eating dinner with them. That was just a shock to me.  Wow, you’re really meeting these guys and really eating with them.”

On the Person Who Has Made the Biggest Impression on Him: “I have to go back to Aaron Sele.  He’s one of our coaches, but just hanging out with him, he can relate to us.  He wasn’t there too long ago, so he knows how tough it is.  Other coaches are saying the same thing, and I do understand, but the way he talks to us…he just comes across so genuine and understanding.  I get a lot from him.”

On His Goals for the Upcoming Season: “Just to go out and try to stay healthy and get my innings in and compete in every single outing I have.  My main goal last year was to just compete and learn my mechanics.  I think I’ve got a hold of my mechanics…they’re not perfected, but I just want to go out and put out a strong outing every single time I walk out on the mound.”

Pitcher Kenly Jansen (Dodger pitcher converting from catcher)

On the Person Who Has Made the Biggest Impression on Him: “The one that made an impression on me always, and I always love and laugh a lot, is Tommy Lasorda.  Always telling great stories and what a great story he had.  I learn a lot from him, listening to what he says.”

On His Transition from Catcher to Pitcher: “It’s going pretty good.  I’m feeling comfortable and natural.  I keep working on it, but it seems like it’s going pretty good right now.  This year I have a lot of time to work on it and especially learn from all the pitchers that have a lot of experience, like JMac (James McDonald), Ramon Troncoso…Aaron Sele.  I’ve been learning a lot at how to work at pitches and how to get prepared as a pitcher.”

On His Goals for the Upcoming Season: “My goal is every time I go out there, just play hard, stay focused, make great pitches…and get better every day.”

Pitcher Jon Link (Reliever acquired from the Chicago White Sox in the Juan Pierre trade)

On the Winter Development Program: “I’m having a good time and enjoying myself out here.  Getting to know the guys and the facilities.  I think that’s big for guys that have a possibility of playing in Dodger Stadium in the near future.  To get to know the people, the facilities and your way around LA.  I think it’s real important, so that way when you get here, you can focus on playing baseball.”

On How Similar or Different the Winter Development Program is to What the White Sox Offer: “Way different.  The White Sox, to my knowledge, haven’t done anything like this.  I was only with them for a short period, two years.  This is one of the few teams that I know of that do it, and I think it’s a great opportunity for a lot of guys to come out and get to know everybody.”

On His Favorite Moment So Far: “Whenever you talk to Tommy, he’s a character and that’s a guy who knows baseball inside and out.  Things that he says you really hang on to. Because he’s such a great motivational speaker, and he knows how to motivate guys and teams, I think anything he says you really have to stick with.”

On Who Has Shown Him the Ropes in LA: “All of the guys welcome you with open arms.  However you get here, trade, free agent, Rule 5, obviously the Dodgers see you, they like you, they like what you can bring to the ball club.  And I think the Dodger organization as a whole realizes that all the way from the front office down to the players.  This organization is really committed to winning.  So anything, or anybody, that they can get in and help them win, they go after.  The guys have been great as far as welcoming us, the new guys, and showing us around.”

Ethan Martin Continues to Impress in Minors

I was reading over the April winners of the Dodgers Pride awards, and low and behold there was Ethan Martin’s name listed under single-A Great Lakes. According to the release, Martin was 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA (3 ER/20.0 IP) in four starts. In addition, young Ethan struck out 26 batters in 20 innings and held opposing hitters to a .169 batting average.

Martin has looked eager to impress this season after spending much of last season recovering from a knee injury. According to a recent interview with the Saginaw News, Martin fancies himself a Clayton Kershaw type player who can make a big impact in the minors and show the ability to rise quickly if needed in the Majors.

“My goal is to follow his footsteps,” Martin said. “I have a lot of work to do, but it can be done. He’s shown that. Seeing him have the kind of success he’s having helps a lot.”

Both Martin and Kershaw were drafted out of high school by the Dodgers in the first round, and both were highly rated pitching prospects. In fact, according to the Saginaw News, Martin has a bit of an edge on Kershaw in the stats department

Martin, ranked by Baseball America as the Dodgers’ No. 3 prospect, actually has pitched better with the Loons than Kershaw did in 2007. Kershaw was 7-5 with the Loons with a 2.77 earned run average in 20 games. In 97 1/3 innings, Kershaw allowed 72 hits, striking out 134 and walking 50.

Now, Martin finally fell back to earth in a recent outing after being shelled by Burlington. Martin gave up four runs on six hits and struck out four in four innings of work.

In addition, it doesn’t appear that the coaching staff is in any rush to see Martin pushed to his limits. He has yet to be given more than five innings of work by the team despite much of his success, likely following a directive from the Dodgers management to refine control and consistency while building up confidence. Kershaw was shaky in entering the majors late in the season for his MLB debut, and the Dodgers likely will take it slow with Martin to make sure the maturity and consistency are entrenched before calling him up.

Regardless, Martin appears to be the real deal. If he can stay healthy and continue to mature, he could definitely be one to watch. Hopefully the Dodgers will be able to leave him in the minors until next season if nothing more than to help solidify his success in the future.

Dodgers Sign Rookie Ethan Martin

Well, it’s official. The Dodgers signed rookie RHP Ethan Martin today.

His contract included a $1.73-million signing bonus and looked quite strong in batting practice today, delivering four homers during his time at the plate. Torre was so impressed, he asked Martin, “Are you sure you want to pitch?” Martin’s response, “Yes sir, I guess so.”

Ah highschoolers, they always deliver the eloquent sound bytes, don’t they?

Martin will be headed to Vero Beach at the end of the week, where the will spend time with the team’s rookie ball affiliate. Expect to see Ethan pitch roughly 35-40 innings between now and September according to published reports.

Martin most recently played for Stephens County High School in Georgia before being taken by the Dodgers in the first round of the MLB draft.

Ethan Martin Trivia

So like many of you, I’m trying to find more information on the Dodgers 19 year-old first round draft pick, pitcher Ethan Martin.  I did uncover one piece of trivia that did disturb me: the Dodgers have not won a playoff series in Martin’s lifetime!  Yup, he was born eight months afterthe team’s last post-season series win.  How sad is that?  (A tip o’ the cap to Mark Whicker at the OC Register for that factoid…check out his June 5 article to learn more about Martin).

Given the state of our state of our starting pitching, is it too soon to think about calling him up?  Hell, the Dodgers should have had a plane on standby waiting to take him straight to the ballpark after he was selected!