While working in big league camp this spring, Corbin Martin made sure he paid extra attention to detail on every pitch as he prepared to face veteran lineups. After all, he was going to be pitching against more mature hitters when he arrived in the Pacific Coast League.Two starts into
While working in big league camp this spring, Corbin Martin made sure he paid extra attention to detail on every pitch as he prepared to face veteran lineups. After all, he was going to be pitching against more mature hitters when he arrived in the Pacific Coast League.
Two starts into his Triple-A tenure and it's clear Martin took those lessons from Spring Training and is running with them.
The fifth-ranked Astros prospect carried a no-hitter into the sixth and tied his career high with nine strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings as Round Rock topped Memphis, 4-2, on Friday night at Dell Diamond. He ended up allowing one run on one hit and three walks.
Working with No. 14 Astros prospect Garrett Stubbs behind the plate and Martin in command of his arsenal from the outset, the two were in sync and stayed on track with their pregame plan.
"I attacked the zone early, tried to get them to put the ball in play and let our defense work," Martin said. "Our defense was making really good plays and Garrett Stubbs was calling a really good game. I was just trusting what he knew and the game plan. ... That's the biggest key, being on the same page as your catcher and not having to waste time with shaking and not being on the same page; you can get all out of whack. But Garrett takes pride in that and it's something we're all blessed for."
In his PCL debut on April 6, Martin was touched up for two runs on two hits, including a homer, and three walks over 4 1/3 innings in a loss at New Orleans. Back on the bump six days later, the Houston native threw 61 of 90 pitches for strikes while facing three batters over the minimum. Martin recorded at least two strikeouts in each of the first four frames.
According to Martin, getting six games -- and 16 1/3 innings -- of action in the Grapefruit League has proven invaluable in the early part of the season. In short, it allowed him to get into the right mind-set as he headed into his third professional season.
"I think it definitely prepared me mentally and physically for the season," he said. "It got me ready to throw in games and I'm just going to keep learning from what I learned there and continue to get better. ... I was all ears throughout Spring Training, but someone I really talked to and respect is Max Stassi -- our catcher in the big leagues. Something he takes pride in as a catcher is knowing pitchers and picking up on things on what makes them good and what makes them struggle at times."
Gameday box score
MLB.com's No. 79 overall prospect set down 15 of the first 17 batters and kept the Redbirds out of the hit column through five innings. Joe Hudson broke through with a leadoff single to center field in the sixth. Drew Robinson walked, but after a mound visit, Martin got Cardinals No. 25 prospect Ramon Urias to bounce into a double play. He was lifted in favor of Ralph Garza (1-0), who allowed an RBI double to Rangel Ravelo.
Charged with one run, Martin lowered his ERA to 2.70, which is only a tick above his career mark of 2.46.
"I had confidence in all my pitches and knew Garrett was going to knock down strikes when I needed to. He was doing a good job of that," Martin said. "I've been working on less walks and something I take pride in is not giving up free passes. And something I'm going to work on tomorrow is seeing what I was making mistakes on with the walks. But overall, I thought our team ... did a good job making plays with the ball. Our infield was making plays, especially in the sixth inning. [Third baseman Alex De Goti] makes a really good play to make a double play and limit damage."
In his first full season between the Carolina and Texas leagues, Martin dazzled with a 9-2 record, 2.51 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 25 games, including 21 starts. The Texas A&M product, who was a midseason and postseason All-Star with Double-A Corpus Christi, has struck out nine hitters on four separate occasions.
But numbers aside, Martin said he's happy to be continuing to pitch in Texas. The Houston native, who spent the second half of last year in Corpus Christi, got to remain in the state when the Astros changed their Triple-A affiliation from Fresno to Round Rock this year. Being close to family and 168 miles from the parent club, Martin is in an ideal situation.
"Oh, it's nice, man. I get to see my family and stay in the great state of Texas," the hurler said. "It's pretty close to home and Round Rock is a beautiful place and it's a beautiful ballpark. So I'm definitely lucky to be here."
No. 11 Astros prospect Framber Valdez earned the save with two strikeouts in a perfect ninth.
Down by one in the eighth, the Express rallied for three runs. No. 16 Astros prospect Myles Straw plated one with a groundout and Derek Fisher put Round Rock ahead when he blasted a two-run homer, his fifth of the season.
Andrew Battifarano is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @AndrewAtBatt.