Kyle Martin

Position: RHRP
Level: Triple-A
Affiliate: Pawtucket Red Sox
Age: 25 yrs, 7m
Height: 6'7"
Weight: 230
B/T: Right / Right
Acquired: 9th Rd., 2013 MLB First-YEar Player Draft (BOS)

Prospect Spotlight

It was an impressive last two innings of mop-up relief for the big right-hander against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, throwing 19 pitches (15 for strikes) in a 9-4 loss at Lehigh Valley on August 17, allowing a weak grounder for his lone hit, and striking out three of the six batters he faced, five of which were lefties.

Martin, a 2013 ninth-round pick of the Sox, has been used exclusively in a bullpen role after starting for most of his career at Texas A&M.  He has a fully developed build, with a high waist and a thick lower half and rolled shoulders.  Throwing only from the stretch, he toes the first-base side of the rubber, employing two rock steps to come set, employing a high leg lift, and uncoiling with a high glove hand and with some tilt to his shoulders.  He gets big extension off the mound with those long legs and a big push, and has some spine tilt towards first base as he fires from a 3/4’s arm angle with medium effort.  He shows the ball on the back side, and has a full arm circle with a quick arm action, though the effort and the spine tilt cause him to fall off to the first base side when finishing.  With some rather large moving parts to the delivery, it can be tough for such a large man to maintain consistent mechanics and control, but Martin is improving in this area, with an excellent 11.1 K/9 rate (good for second in the International League for pitchers with over 50 IP), and fringe-average 3.1 BB/9 rate, compared to 10.3 and 3.4, respectively, at Double-A Portland last year.

In this limited viewing he threw equal parts fastball (92-to-94 mph), slider (81-to-84 mph) and circle changeups (79-to-81 mph), and they each played up a few ticks because of the extension Martin gets off the mound.  He worked from ahead in the count to all six batters that he faced, which is a pretty clear pathway to his success, given the rather large delta he has working ahead (2.08 ERA) vs. behind (9.26 ERA).  His fastball comes in downhill with some mild cut action to it, but it was an otherwise straight offering thrown in on the hands of lefties to keep them from getting extended.  His slider was a solid out pitch used to finish off top Phillies outfield prospect Nick Williams (looking) and Cody Asche (swinging) with some tilt and average late bite.  The circle-changeup looked to be the most refined offering in his repertoire, a plus pitch thrown from the same release point as the fastball and replicating his arm speed deceptively well, and teasing the outside third against lefties, with the pitch showing late, sinking life and fade, and big-time 11-13 mph velo separation from the fastball that got hitters onto their front foot.

After just 42 IP at Double-A Portland last year, Martin has spent the 2016 season at Pawtucket, and the move doesn’t seem to have fazed him, as his numbers have improved over his 2015 campaign.  His ERA has dropped from 4.50 to 3.39, his BAA has dropped from .264 to .218, and his WHIP has been whittled from 1.40 to 1.16 (good enough for T5 in the International League if he qualified).  And the effectiveness against lefties in this viewing seems more the norm than the exception for Martin this year, with his season’s ERA of 2.28 and BAA of .200 across 23.1 IP, vs. 3.57 and .210 over 22.1 IP in 2015 with the Sea Dogs.

With an average fastball, plus changeup, and a fringe-average slider in the arsenal, a middle reliever profile seems in his cards from here, though he’ll need to prove he can establish his fastball early to be successful in longer outings.  He could also get some time in a situational role vs. LHH, and pound this inside corners with all three pitches, as he did so well in this viewing.  On an out-of-contention club, he would be a candidate for a late-season call-up to get his feet wet in the big leagues this September, but with the parent club in the heat of a pennant race, big league innings will be hard to come by.  So I’d expect him to be a topic of conversation in spring training, and he could see some innings early next year, especially if the improvements in his command keep coming, and he stays focused on getting ahead in counts early and often.