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2021 Arizona Diamondbacks Player Preview: Corbin Martin

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The key player coming from Houston in the 2019 Zack Greinke trade is set to make his Diamondbacks debut against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

Syndication: Arizona Republic Rob Schumacher/The Republic via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Birthdate: 12/28/1995 (25 y, 4 m, 20 d)
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 225 lbs.
Trows/Bats: R/R
Drafted: 2017 June Amateur Draft - Round: 2, Pick: 20, Overall: 56, Team: Houston Astros
Service Time: 1.023
MiLB Options: 2

Pitching Grades:

FB: 55/60 SL: 55/55 CV: 55/55 CH: 50/55 CMD: 50/55 Overall: 50+

If one were to poll 10 different talent evaluators about Corbin Martin, one would likely get 7-10 different perspectives. There are those that feel his arsenal of four plus-grade pitches and his ability to throw strikes makes him a real top-of-the-rotation talent. There are others who feel that, despite Martin’s arsenal, he lacks the ability to put batters away, making him a likely #3-type pitcher. Still others worry about Martin’s durability and see him as a back-of-the-rotation starter or possibly a middle reliever.

Arrival:

The Astros, as an organization, thought enough of Martin to promote him aggressively through their system. His minor league results backed up Houston’s faith in him. Drafted in 2017, he was considered an “untouchable” in both 2018 and to open the season in 2019. After some service time manipulation, Houston promoted Martin to the Majors on 12 May 2019, at age 23 and after only a single season of development. He acquitted himself well in his MLB debut. Then, his next four starts were something of a mixed bag, during which he experienced a decline in velocity and a loss of control. The red flags flew all over the place and, sure enough, Martin went to the IL, eventually going under the knife for Tommy John surgery.

It was that injury, along with Houston’s place in the standings which incentivized the Astros to give Mike Hazen a call at the trade deadline, inquiring about acquiring Zack Greinke. Greinke’s talent combined with Martin’s surgery combined to make Martin available as the top player sent to Arizona when the deal was made. Before the pandemic struck, Arizona was looking at a potential August return to action for Martin. COVID changed everything though. Not only was there no MLB return for Martin in 2020, with the minors shut down, there was precious little of anything for Martin to do in 2020 other than to continue healing and fully recovering from his surgery. He did get some light work in at the alt site, but a mild oblique strain prompted the team to simply shut Martin down and let the winter heal him up.

When pitchers and catchers reported in February, Martin arrived fully recovered and ready to go. The rotation however, was full. Also, there were still some concerns with getting Martin some minor league innings to get a feel for actual game performance pitching. Injuries and performance issues have taken their toll on the 26-man roster, especially the rotation. This has opened the door for Martin to get his shot, despite the minor league season having only just started. He will now start one of the remaining games left in this four-game series at Chavez Ravine. It could potentially be tonight.

Stuff:

Entering the 2021 season, Corbin Martin ranks #114 on Longerhagen’s board at Fangraphs. In terms of organizational rankings, he ranks anywhere from #3-#8, depending on the evaluator.

As Martin’s pitching grades indicate, the right-hander has some electric pitches. Martin’s fastball, which may still actually be getting better, sits comfortably at 94-95, a velocity he is able to carry deep into games. He has reach-back velocity around 98 mph. As for movement, Martin’s fastball has significant run, making it difficult to square up. His release is repeatable. He also demonstrates easy effort on the mound, prompting some to comment that it looks like he is playing catch with his battery mate.

Martin’s second pitch is his slider. This is his go-to pitch for missing bats from both sides. It is on the hard side and features late break.

Martin possesses a second breaking pitch, his curveball. The curveball is not as advanced as his slider, though it still is a pitch he can use to induce swing-and-miss, especially when he throws it in slider counts.

Lastly, Martin has a change that he has developed mostly since being drafted, making it a relatively new pitch in terms of being part of his regular arsenal. The change is still a work in progress, but is, at the least, an average offering with decent late dive that he uses to keep left-handed batters honest. As Martin continues to get game-action experience, many feel that this change could also develop into a legitimate plus-pitch.

Martin’s Major League command remains to be seen. Throwing strikes and avoiding the free pass were never much of an issue for Martin until 2019. Since then, his stat line shows an increase in his walk rate, but the stats are including an incredibly small number of innings and also include three games during which he is thought to have been pitching with UCL damage.