Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training Preview: Non-Roster Pitchers.
Shairon Martis made fifteen starts for the Washington Nationals in 2009 throwing 85.2 innings while allowing 83 hits. Martis struckout 34 and walked 39. But then in 2010, despite the Nats having a myriad of problems in their rotation, Martis was left in AAA Syracuse where he threw 152 innings striking out 99 and giving up a pile of fly balls. He also didn’t exactly show pinpoint control as he walked 60.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Martis spent all of 2011 in AA. Yeh, the entire season was devoted to pitching for Harrisburg. It had to suck for a pitcher that made ESPN in 2006 when he no hit Team Panama over seven innings as the ace of surprising Team Holland in the World Baseball Classic.
The Pittsburgh Pirates picked up Martis this offseason in what we feel was a solid signing. Look at it this way, Martis is a few months older than Kyle McPherson. Martis was born in March of 1987, McPherson in November. Both pitchers excelled while facing some of the same hitters.
While Martis was in AA Harrisburg, Martis struckout 146 batters in 133 innings. He battled with the Nats reportedly over some issues with his conditioning or maturity depending on what report you read.
While not in the classic mold of a Neal Huntington guy, he is just 6’1″, Martis is a nice pitcher to have in the Pirates system. He was called up to the show in 2008 and made four starts. Reports at the time stated the right hander lacked one dominant pitch.
He will be 25 on March 30, so the age is still on his side, but it’s up to his performance this spring to determine if he will be able to ever return to the majors. He has pitched this winter and indications show that he will be ready for competition when he arrives in Bradenton. In Venezuela, Martis has made eight starts pitching 43.2 innings with a 2.47 ERA and 28 strikeouts.
We like the fact that he has experienced the lifestyle of the majors. Obviously, he struggled, but from the numbers it appears that he has taken a firm grasp on his future after making some serious changes on and off the field. He has over 100 innings in the majors which without question is important for the Bucs.
Martis is our most interesting non-roster pitcher (sorry Tim Wood and Ryota Igarashi) and we will be watching the right hander closely in Bradenton.
Here is the last out of his no hitter (one walk) this past summer:
After the no-no this season, Martis had thrown 128 innings, had a 2.81 ERA with 143 strikeouts and 38 walks. He was challenged by the Nats to change his lifestyle meaning they wanted him to eat better and workout more. He achieved his success, albeit at the AA level, with a new pitching delivery that Randy Tomlin developed for him. Reports say that his fastball touches 94, his breaking pitches have more bite, and he doesn’t rely on his changeup as much as he did in the past.
Some sick video highlights against the Buccos Altoona Curve show just how dominant Martis can be, or it shows just how bad the Curve were at hitting a baseball this season. It also shows how bad luck screwed Curve starter Filthy Phil Irwin.
Last June, Tomlin said that he thinks Martis is going “to be a lot better than he is right now.” Let’s hope so. Stealing a pitcher who still has some youth on his side, just might be what the Pirates need in 2012.
Best case: Martis impresses in Bradenton and pushes some of the more well known arms in the Bucs system. We can see Martis pitching in the Indianapolis rotation to start in 2012. (A lot better than watching Brian Burres right?) and if injuries mount in the Pirates rotation, a return to the big leagues might be a lot closer than anyone can imagine. How Martis performs if he does get that opportunity is the real question.