The Astros have officially called-up RHP Corbin Martin to make his major league debut today (May 12, 2019) in the series finale against the Texas Rangers. Collin McHugh has been shifted to the bullpen, making room for Martin in the rotation.
Martin (23 yrs, 6-2, 200 lb) was drafted out of Texas A&M University with the 56th pick in the 2nd round of the 2017 MLB June Amateur Draft. He was born in Houston and attended a local high school in Cypress, Tx. Martin is considered the Astros’ 6th best prospect and Baseball America ranked him 78th among MLB prospects entering the 2019 regular season. Both FanGraphs (# 50) and MLB.com (# 73) have rated him among MLB’s 75 best prospects.
Martin has pitched exceptionally well as a minor leaguer. In 2018, he recorded 103 IP with the Astros’ Double-A affiliate in Corpus Christi, Tx, and posted a 2.97 ERA/3.29 FIP, with 8.39 K/9, 2.45 BB/9 and a 47.3 percent groundball rate. Thus far in 2019, Martin has continued to excel in Triple-A; in 24.1 IP, he’s recorded a 1.48 ERA/3.35 FIP, 10.36 K/9, 4.07 BB/9 and another 47 percent-plus groundball rate. In 179 career minor league IP, Martin has limited opposing hitters to a measly .191 BAA.
Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs have offered the following appraisal of Martin’s major league potential:
Martin sits in the mid-90s, mixes in a plus slider, with an above average changeup and average command. He still doesn’t post the strikeout rates that you’d assume from a possible No. 2 or 3 starter in the Astros farm system, which annually leads the minors in strikeouts in part because they know how to coach pitchers to make the most of their stuff. Sources with knowledge in this area indicate that Martin should see more K’s in 2019 if he can make a couple subtle adjustments to how he uses his pitches and fully unlock his potential, which could lead to a big league look at the end of 2019 if the vaunted Astros pitching staff has an open spot.
Martin’s major league gig may only be temporary to allow McHugh an opportunity to adjust his pitch-mix and rely less on his slider. Even so, a strong showing will help stabilize the back end of the Astros starting rotation and could strengthen Martin’s case for a more permanent opportunity later this season, when the team makes roster decisions in preparation for another postseason run.
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