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St. Louis Cardinals Top Prospects: #28

Every other day over the next two months, John Nagel and Kyle Reis will announce a new prospect on The Redbird Daily’s Top 30 St. Louis Cardinals Prospect List. For each prospect, John and Kyle will reveal where that prospect landed on their personal lists and also few thoughts on the prospect. We hope you enjoy!

Prospect #28: Jeremy Martinez – 4th Round, 2016

2016 Stats: Short Season State College – 325/419/433 1 HR, 32 RBI, 14 Doubles, 32 Walks, 16 Strike Outs

Kyle Reis (Ranked #28 On Personal List)

It’s fitting that we follow-up Jonathan Machado, one of the more raw prospects in the system, with Jeremy Martinez, perhaps one of the more polished prospects in the system. That’s how these lists work, and that’s why I love them.

Martinez was regarded as one of the best high school catching prospects entering the 2013 draft but wasn’t taken until the 37th round because of the hard verbal commitment that he had given to USC. (It was the Cubs that drafted him, by the way. So, F the Cubs). Fast forward three years and the Cardinals were more than happy to take him in the back half of the fourth round.

From a scouting standpoint, the first thing that I want to mention about Martinez is that I absolutely love his swing. It’s beautiful and short and quick, and it has barely changed since high school. Under most circumstances that might not be a good thing, but when a swing is that sweet it’s an incredibly good thing.

When evaluating Martinez, I believe that it’s extra important to review his resume at USC. You see, Martinez was a relatively late bloomer. During both of his first two seasons at USC he walked more than he struck out and made regular contact, but really struggles to drive the ball. Over those first two season he hit a lack luster total of 2 home runs over a combined 411 at bats. He was still getting on base, though, showing an OBP of .380 as a freshman and .395 as a sophomore.

But things really came together for him during his junior season when he slashed 376/460/1.023 in the tough PAC-12. He also showed power for the first time, hitting 6 home runs with an additional 20 XBH’s in 213 at bats. He also became the regular catcher during that season after playing primarily first during those first two seasons.

As the stat line at the top of the article shows, Martinez had a very successful professional debut. The one concerning thing is that the power disappeared again. And that’s why it’s so important to thoroughly review his college stats; it substantiates his lack of power at State College, to a degree, and it’s an encouraging sign that the power is likely to pop back up with enough seasoning.

Making sense of Martinez as a catcher is a little bit more difficult. The fact that he wasn’t the regular catcher at USC until his junior season is a concern to me. Although, that could be a positive if you view it from a health of his knees stand point. He did start exclusively at catcher for State College and threw out 46% of base stealers while drawing rave reviews from the coaching and pitching staffs. Martinez has an absolutely quick pop time, but his arm is lacking the strength to really take advantage of his lower body balance and pop time. The one thing that is for sure is that he will need to continue to progress as a back stop if he wants to make it to the majors: his hitting profile without the power does not bode well for a position change.

Earlier in the week when John touched on Martinez he mentioned that he believes Martinez has a ceiling of a backup catcher. That is terribly hard to argue with. However, I do think he has a small chance to blossom into an MLB regular if the power he displayed as a junior at USC resurfaces and he continues to progress behind the plate. Although, right now I think he is more Cody Stanley than he is Carson Kelly. You know, minus the PED use and suspensions.

Damn you, Cody Stanley.

John Nagel (#31 on personal list)

So I had put Jeremy Martinez on my “Best of the Rest” post without thinking that he still might make the top 30. He comes in at #28, but I think he has a great shot of moving up this list, more than the other prospects we have ranked thus far.

Jeremy Martinez is the first catcher we have ranked so far, but the catching depth has improved tremendously. Martinez, out of the University of Southern California, played his 2016 season with the State College Spikes, an assignment that was probably below his level of play and it showed. For the Spikes, Martinez had a wRC+ of 157 and struck out only 16 more times than I did. So, you can’t really look much at his stats to get a sense of his prospect status.

Martinez’s peak is that of a back up catcher, in my opinion. This means his upside is limited, but his risk is also limited. With his peak as a back up, I don’t have Martinez quite in my top 30, but a strong season at either Low-A Peoria or Palm Beach (which would be preferred) will move him up.

How we rank prospects: Click Here
Best of The Rest: Click Here
#30 Prospect: 
Daniel Poncedeleon
#29 Prospect: Jonathan Machado
#28 Prospect: Jeremy Martinez
#27 Prospect: 2/9
#26 Prospect: 2/11 
#25 Prospect:
#24 Prospect: 2/15
#23 Prospect: 2/17
#22 Prospect: 2/19
#21 Prospect: 2/21
#20 Propsect: 2/23
#19 Prospect: 2/25
#18 Prospect: 2/27
#17 Prospect: 3/1
#16 Prospect: 3/3
#15 Prospect: 3/5
#14 Prospect: 3/7
#13 Prospect: 3/9
#12 Prospect: 3/11
#11 Prospect: 3/13
#10 Prospect: 3/15
#9 Prospect: 3/17
#8 Prospect: 3/19
#7 Prospect: 3/21
#6 Prospect: 3/23
#5 Prospect: 3/25
#4 Prospect: 3/27
#3 Prospect: 3/29
#2 Prospect: 3/31
#1 Prospect: 4/2

Kyle Reis
Kyle is a South City St Louis born and raised. He is 30 years old and grew up at old Busch Stadium. His favorite Cardinals player of all time is Ray Lankford. Kyle is an overly simple person who loves countable baseball statistics, following minor league baseball, and friendly discourse. He tends to not take people seriously that refer for the team that they root for as "we" instead of "them".
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