SoxProspects News

April 12, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Notes from the Field: Joan Martinez and Hildemaro Requena


At the end of March, the SoxProspects Staff made their annual trip to Minor League Spring Training. Over the next few weeks their notes and observations will be featured on SoxProspects News. Here is the third edition of Notes from the Field from Spring Training 2018 taking a look at two pitchers who were assigned to Salem to start the season.


FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The top relief prospect currently pitching in that role in the Red Sox system, right-hander Joan Martinez threw twice during our time in Spring Training as he ramped up for the regular season. Martinez has shown steady improvement each time I’ve seen him, the first time coming at Fall Instructs in 2016, but rather than his velocity increasing, it was the improvement on his secondary pitches that was most noticeable this year. Martinez’s fastball sat 94-96 mph, a tick down from his peak last year, but both his splitter and slider flashed above-average potential. The splitter is a new weapon for Martinez—last spring, he only featured a well below-average changeup. He throws the pitch 87-89 mph with late tumble down and away from left-handed hitters. Given his arm-heavy delivery and three-quarters arm slot from the first base side of the rubber, a pitch to neutralize lefties will be key for his development, and his splitter looks like it could be the pitch to do that. 

Martinez also seems to have found a good velocity range for his slider, a pitch that he threw anywhere from 78-87 mph last year at various times. He threw it 81-84 mph with the pitch showing tight, vertical break. He elicited several swinging strikes with the pitch, and with improved consistency it could give him two out pitches with swing-and-miss potential. 

Armed with a very intriguing three-pitch mix, Martinez has started the year with a promotion to Salem after just 20 1/3 innings in the regular season and playoffs in Greenville last year, when he was used as something like a closer in the Drive’s post-season run to the South Atlantic League championship. If he carries over his performance from last season, continues to show solid fastball control, and improves his command he could be fast-tracked and reach the high minors this season.

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One of the under-the-radar standout performers in the Red Sox system the last few years has been right-hander Hildemaro Requena. With Greenville last year, Requena put up a 3.28 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 49 1/3 innings out of the bullpen, but struck out 51 hitters and only walked 17. After moving into the Drive’s rotation at the end of the season, he helped key the Drive’s run to the playoffs, finishing the regular season with a 7-0 record in 8 starts, posting a 0.59 ERA and 0.85 WHIP in 46 innings, striking out 33 and walking 14. His combined line—a 1.98 ERA and 1.08 WHIP, 84 strikeouts and 31 walks in 95 1/3 innings—made him a player we wanted to see in camp.

Requena’s frame and stuff don’t stand out, but he knows how to pitch and it is easy to see why he has been successful thus far. Requena looks his listed 6-foot-2, 170 pounds. He could be a little heavier than that and is filled out with minimal remaining projection. Requena has feel for his three pitches and has the ability to throw any of them for strikes. He did a good job keeping hitters off-balance and minimizing hard contact over his four innings in the High A game, even with his fastball topping out at only 91 mph. Requena showed two average secondaries—a curveball at 75-76 mph and changeup at 82-84 mph. He showed confidence in both and a willingness to throw them in any count.

Requena has returned to the bullpen in his season-opening assignment to Salem, but is working in a piggyback role, likely in deference to the club’s loaded rotation, which features five of the system’s top 15 prospects according to our rankings. It bears watching to see if he will continue his success with average stuff as he continues climbing the ladder.

Photo credit: Joan Martinez by Kelly O'Connor and Hildemaro Requena by milb.com



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

 
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