The Dodgers picked up prospect/former prospect Fabio Martinez from the Indians late last month, and I didn’t think much about it until I took a look into who he actually was.
Turns out he was once a hot commodity in the Angels‘ farm system as a 20-year-old starter in A-ball, primarily due to him posting a K rate above 12. Fast forward three years and he has since yet to post an ERA lower than 10 between stops that weren’t Rookie-ball. Yes, he was still missing bats (11.8 K/9) in 2013, but his walk rate was bad in an epic way (11.1 BB/9), and there didn’t seem to be much hope in a future for him.
Martinez has no shot at helping in the majors anytime soon, but he’s still young. Perhaps a change of organization will revive his chances. He will reportedly convert to relief, where he can just come in and blow the ball past hitters, worrying less about developing his changeup or pacing himself.
That’s what John Sickles of Minor League Ball wrote before 2013, and he was even worse in relief than he was starting.
So the question for the Dodgers to answer is whether or not Fabio can be fixed.
Well … there’s that. And you could argue that’s better than he used to look.
Before talking about anything else, notice that he has a motion that’s difficult to repeat and it doesn’t appear that he has the coordination to do it consistently. Next you’ll see that his arm slot is extreme in the sense that it’s almost a vertical 12-6 type of release, which is problematic because of his inconsistent mechanics. Hypothetically, he should have a ton of downward plane on the ball due to his release point, but the fastball and everything else flattens out because he’ll fall off to the left and arch his back after footstrike, causing him to miss up again and again and again.
I went back and watched video of him against Dodger prospects, and the issue that kept popping up was that he’ll tilt his head or lean to one side during his delivery, which then makes a consistent arm slot impossible to pin down.
In the video posted above, he flares his lead side open less during his warmup pitches, but once in a game scenario, the tilt starts anew. Is he better now? Arguably, but the main issues haven’t been addressed from my view.
Fabio Martinez on the top and Felix Hernandez on the bottom.
Can Fabio be fixed? Sure, I think anybody can be ‘fixed’, but it’s not so much about being able to change the way he throws as it is just getting him to repeat a motion that can work. Mainly I would think they could focus on getting him to drive towards the plate more with his mechanics, and hopefully he can repeat that enough to where he can get a feel for his release point. Not impossible, but extremely difficult at this stage in development.
So given all that, why care?
While his mechanics are an absolute mess, the stuff is still there, and the Dodgers seem to be keen on attempting to fix these types of pitchers recently (Carlos Marmol/Edinson Volquez). When he’s right, Fabio sits 93-95 and touches 97, throws a hard slider that flashes plus in the 87-89 range, and has generally scrapped his ineffective changeup while in relief.
I find this pickup much more interesting than other random guys that toe the line between organizational depth and filler. Basically players with upside that come into the organization via a no-lose scenario, because they always have that hope of being turned around into gold, and I look forward to seeing if he improves in the Dodgers’ system.
In other news, Elian Herrera is gone.
Today, Elian Herrera was claimed off waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) November 4, 2013
40-man roster is now at 32.