SoxProspects News

August 11, 2017 at 7:30 AM

Scouting Scratch: Joan Martinez, Juan Florentino and Jared Oliver


Today’s Scouting Scratch focuses on a trio of relief pitchers promoted from Lowell to Greenville in the first week of August.

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The highest-ranked prospect in the SoxProspects rankings of the trio of pitchers we’ll cover today is Dominican right-hander Joan Martinez, currently the 44th-ranked player on the list. In 17 1/3 innings with Lowell, Martinez had a 1.56 ERA and 0.92 WHIP and struck out 13 while walking four. Martinez carried that strong performance into his first week in the South Atlantic League, striking out seven while allowing just one batter to reach in five innings, that on a walk. 

The 20-year old Martinez looks his listed 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, but still has some projection on his frame. Martinez throws from a three-quarters arm slot and has a very quick arm. His control is impressive considering that his delivery leaves a lot to be desired. It is a high-effort, hard-to-repeat delivery with a lot of moving parts, and he doesn’t utilize his lower half. Martinez starts in the stretch with his hands set at his waist. He utilizes a medium leg kick and has a long arm swing behind before landing on a stiff front leg and falling off to the first base side. 

The velocity Martinez is able to generate with that delivery is impressive and has steadily increased since he signed. During the 2016 Fall Instructional League, Martinez sat 91-93 mph, and this spring he was up to 93-95 mph. Martinez now sits 95-97 mph and has reportedly touched higher. His fastball is straight and he is the early stages of developing command of the offering. At this point, he is more of a thrower than a pitcher. 

Martinez compliments his fastball with a breaking ball and changeup. His breaking ball ranged all the way from 78-87 mph in a recent outing. The pitch is supposed to be a slider, but he lacks feel for it and both his release and the shape of the pitch are very inconsistent. The pitch was at its best at 82-83 mph, where it flashed average potential with some depth. On the lower end, the pitch rolled to the plate, and on the high end it was flat and lacked depth. 

Martinez threw his changeup 90-93 mph with it looking like a fastball he took something off of. It did show some run on occasion, almost like a two-seam fastball, but the pitch lacks separation from his fastball and he doesn’t have feel for it.

Martinez has a strong arm and the results thus far have been encouraging. He didn’t sign until January 2016, when he was already 18, so this is only his second year in the organization. His delivery is off-putting to hitters and his arm is very quick, but he is raw and has a long way to go to reach his potential. Having signed for just a $5,000 bonus, he represents another potential scouting find for the Red Sox international amateur scouting program.

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Right-hander Juan Florentino had served as the Spinners’ closer before his promotion last week. The 20-year old Dominican dominated in 18 2/3 innings with Lowell, putting up a 0.96 ERA and 0.86 WHIP while striking out 25 and walking only two.

The first thing that stands out with Florentino is his size—though he is listed at 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, he is shorter. But even though he is small in stature, he has a quick arm and generates a lot of velocity for his frame. He throws from a three-quarters arm slot, starting on the first base side of the rubber. He gets his whole body into his delivery and keeps his arm behind his body when he comes forward.

Florentino’s fastball sits 93-95 mph and topped out at 96 mph in outings scouted. The pitch lacks plane, but he has done a good job keeping it down in the zone. His primary pitch is a breaking ball that looked more like a slider in one outing and more like a curve in another. Both times the pitch worked 80-82 mph and he showed some feel for it. The pitch was most effective when it showed long, 11-to-5 break. Florentino also showed a changeup at 88 mph in one outing scouted, but the pitch isn’t a major part of his arsenal at this point and is a work in progress.

As another pitcher who signed late—he was 18 as well when he signed in 2015, making two short appearances before experiencing his first full DSL campaign last year, and his bonus was unreported—Florentino has already started to advance quickly through the system, as you might hope for a player his age. His height keeps him from generating ideal plane on his pitches, but he can combat that by continuing to keep the ball down and developing his secondaries further. 

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The lone American in the trio, right-hander Jared Oliver was the organization’s 26th-round pick in 2016 as a senior out of Truett-McConnell University, a small NAIA school in Georgia, and signed for a $10,000 bonus. Already 24 years old, Oliver excelled against younger competition in the New York-Penn League, striking out 27 hitters in 17 innings and allowing only eight hits, good for a 2.12 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. 

Given his age, Oliver doesn’t have much projection left in his 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame. He is a good athlete and throws from a three-quarters arm slot from the third base side of the rubber. Oliver starts in the stretch and utilizes a medium leg kick and quick delivery. He has a short arm action and keeps the ball hidden behind his body until he releases it. 

Oliver’s fastball sits 91-94 mph and touches 96. He compliments the pitch with a power breaking ball at 80-82 mph. He has some feel for the offering and does a good job snapping it off with 11-to-5 break. The pitch flashes depth at its best and has average-to-better potential. It has shown the ability to miss bats against low-level hitters, but it remains to be seen how effective it would be against more advanced and age-appropriate competition. In Spring Training this year, Oliver showed a slider and a slower variation of a curveball, but the two seemed to have combined into this pitch.

Having struggled with his control even in college, Oliver’s main development point will be throwing more strikes—he walked 8 in his 17 innings in Lowell, and has already had major control issues for the Drive, walking 7 in his 2 2/3 innings over two appearances. 


Photo credit: Joan Martinez, Juan Florentino and Jared Oliver by Kelly O'Connor

Ian Cundall is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @IanCundall.

 
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