Carolina Notebook: Martin is still learning on the mound
The Carolina Mudcats couldn’t have hoped for a better start to the second half, as they won three of their first four games. However, the team dropped two straight to end the week to bring their record to 3-3 in the second half and 32-41 overall.
Carolina came out of the All-Star break, swinging the bats very well, scoring at least six runs in their first four games, but only managed four over their final two.
After enjoying the confines of home for the first six game of the second half, Carolina will be on the road for the next six, traveling to Salem and Winston-Salem for a three-game set against both teams. The Mudcats will then return home for the start of a three-game set against Lynchburg to close out the week.
Player Spotlight: Josh Martin
Nearing the one year anniversary of his call-up to the Carolina Mudcats, right hander Josh Martin has a great deal of things to remember.
He could remember picking up any of his three wins with the Mudcats during that span, or he could choose to remember the six losses he has shouldered. Perhaps he could remember some of the 59 strikeouts he has accumulated in 67 innings pitched.
But Martin, a 10th round selection in 2012 out of Samford University, chooses to take away things he has learned from his outings in order to one day move up in the Indians system.
“One thing I’ve taken in at this level is to just stick with my approach about things,” Martin said.
Thinking you need to change something is very common for a pitcher if he has a rough outing or two, but generally, if he just sticks with what he knows, success will come his way again.
“That was something I had to learn over the off-season, was just stick to who I am as a pitcher,” Martin said. “If I stick with that this year, where I have an outing or two when I get bumped around a bit, I just have to think what I’ve been doing works, and just stick with what got me here.”
Coming out of the bullpen, most pitchers don’t have the most glamorous statistics, but Martin has one statistic no one else on the roster can claim. He was the winning pitcher on Opening Day.
“It was fun,” Martin said. “As a bullpen, you don’t get those opportunities very often. It’s not really a stat that people look at, but we enjoy to have a little number by our win column. It was nice.”
At this level of baseball, pitchers are expected to have rough outings from time to time. In that respect, Martin is just like everyone else, as he attempts to figure out how to work through his struggles and come out of it a better pitcher.
“It’s something I’m going through right now,” Martin said. “You just have to try and keep it as even keel as possible. What they try to preach you is don’t have the roller coasters. Don’t have big ups, don’t have big downs. Try to keep even keel, and try to learn something from the outings.”
Martin realizes he is not alone in his quest to the major leagues, and everyone has things they need to work on to become major league level players.
Perhaps, if he continues to learn from his outings as he has over the course of his last year with the Mudcats, he will one day reach that goal.
But until then, he knows perfection is a goal no one reaches at this level of baseball.
“If everybody was perfect, everybody would be in the major leagues,” Martin said.
Player of the Week
Luigi Rodriguez (OF): 10-22, 7 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 5 BB, 2 K, 1 SB
Offensively, Rodriguez had a monster week, collecting 10 hits and accounting for 11 runs. Since the second half started, Rodriguez has had three multi-hit games, and has scored multiple runs in two games. Rodriguez has always been seen as a promising prospect, and if he continues to put weeks like this together, he will finally be living up to the hype.
Joe Sever (1B): 11-26, 3 R, 2 2B, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 4 K, 1 1B
Since coming off the disabled list at the end of the first half, Sever has been on a roll, going hitless in only one game. At week’s end, Sever was on an eight game hitting streak, and collected an RBI in the first five games of the week.
Ryan Merritt (LHP): 1 GS, 1-0, 8.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
Ryan Merritt isn’t the type of pitcher that is going to blow you away with a 98 MPH fastball and a curveball that will make your knees buckle, but he is a pitcher that can work counts and hit his spots. After starting and pitching a perfect inning in the All-Star Game, Merritt made his first start of the second half and absolutely dominated Myrtle Beach, allowing only two base runners before the eighth inning. The eight innings pitched tied a career high for Merritt, who was named the league Pitcher-of-the-Week for his effort.
Yandy Diaz (3B): 11-27, 4 R, 3 2B, 7 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K
Like Sever, Diaz has done a great job jumping right back into the game after being on the disabled list for the majority of the first half. Diaz collected multiple hits in four games, including three in two games. Diaz also set a new career high for RBI in a game when he collected four in Sunday’s victory over the Pelicans.
Todd Hankins (UT): 8-23, 6 R, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 6 K, 4 SB
Hankins is having a resurgent season after missing a chunk of 2013 due to injury. Not only did he have three multi-hit performances, he also launched his fourth home run of the year. Hankins also set season highs with four RBI in a game and three stole bases.
On the Hook
Erik Gonzalez (SS): 5-24, 4 R, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 6 BB, 3 K, 2 SB
The starting shortstop for the Carolina League in the All-Star game has not played as well as he did in the first half to start the second half. Though his numbers might not look bad to the casual observer, Gonzalez’ numbers do not stack up to the rest of the team’s in a week of offensive explosions across the board.
James Roberts (3B): 4-22, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
Though Roberts has one of the best batting averages on the team, his hits always seem to come at a time when the rest of the team is struggling offensively, so he doesn’t have the chance to score runs or drive them in. However, when the rest of the team is hot, Roberts tends to go cold, as he did this week.
Josh Martin (RHP): 1 G, 1.1 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 1 K
Martin admits he is currently struggling to get guys out, but he says that if he just remembers what got him to this level, he will be fine. It would probably do him some good to just forget the one outing he made this week.
Fish Swimming Around
There were no roster transactions the affected the Mudcats this week.
Fish on the Line
There were no new players added to the disabled list. Right hander Dylan Baker continues to be the only player currently sidelined.
Zachary is a senior at NC State where he is majoring in communication-media, with minors in journalism and theatre. You can follow him on Twitter @RealZachFrancis.