By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – One of the key pieces the Phillies received in their recent flurry of trades was 23-year-old right-hander Ethan Martin. He was acquired from Los Angeles in the Shane Victorino deal and so far he has pitched well with his new organization. In two starts for Double-A Reading, Martin is 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA in 12 1/3 innings (He beat the Trenton Thunder 7-2 on Wednesday) and he is happy where he has landed.
“When they told me (about the trade) it was mixed emotions, I mean I was leaving some friends, but yet I’m happy where I’m at now,” Martin tells KYW Newsradio. “It’s just been an honor to be here and that a team like the Phillies would want me and to be traded for Shane Victorino has just been an honor.”
Listen to Matt Leon’s interview with Ethan Martin:
Martin was a first-round pick of the Dodgers in 2008 (15th overall) out of Stephens County School down in Toccoa, GA, and he actually was just as highly regarded as a third baseman as he was a pitcher.
“Basically it depended on who was going to take me (where he would play). I know there were a couple of teams that wanted me as a hitter and then there were a couple that wanted me as a pitcher. Even when the Dodgers drafted me, (baseball commissioner) Bud Selig, when he announced me, he announced me as a third baseman – so I thought that. Dodgers didn’t waste maybe two seconds saying, ‘Hey, were gonna get you as a pitcher’ soon after he said that. So it was determined by what team drafted me.”
He says he does miss playing everyday, but thinks things have definitely taken the right path.
“I mean I loved hitting, doing that stuff. But when you are on the mound you have the whole game in your hand so I love that part of it, too.”
Reading manager Dusty Wathan says Martin has quite the repertoire.
“I’d say he has three plus pitches: fastball, curve ball and slider. Change-up’s his fourth. He’s got a power fastball.”
Martin has averaged more than a strikeout an inning for his career (449 in 439 IP), but for much of his time in the minors, control has been a significant issue. He walked 81 in 113 1/3 innings at A ball in 2010, and then allowed 66 free passes in 95 1/3 frames last season, splitting time between A and AA (and between starting and relieving) in the Dodger system. However, this year, Martin has walked 63 batters in a career high 130 1/3 innings (all in AA) and just 2 in his limited work with Reading. He talks about that improvement.
“The last year-and-a-half, I’ve really concentrated on having my mechanics and repeating them pitch-to-pitch and that’s what has helped me out a tremendous amount. My command’s coming back a little bit, the walks are going down and that’s one big thing I needed to really work on. I went to Puerto Rico last year (after the season) and just kept pitching, staying in that game-type mentality when I’m throwing off the mound. Instead of just throwing a bullpen in the off-season, I was doing that and that helped out a lot, too.”
Overall in 2012 between Reading and the Dodgers Double-AA squad in Chattanooga, Martin is 10-6 with a 3.38 ERA.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.