The Houston Astros have been struggling with injuries in their rotation. They already lost LHP Dallas Keuchel for 2-3 starts and RHP Lance McCullers was just placed on the 10-day DL with lower back stiffness.
The Astros recently called up their top pitching prospect, RHP Francis Martes, who is only 21 years of age. He was acquired in 2014 when the Astros traded RHP Jarred Cosart and two outfielders to Miami. OF Jake Marisnick was the main piece in return for Cosart, but Francis Martes slowly became the most important piece in that trade.
RHP Brad Peacock struggled in his start, only going 3 innings, so Manager A.J Hinch called on the young Dominican pitcher, trying to save his bullpen, who has been overworked recently.
In 3.2 innings of relief, the young gunslinger gave up 4 runs on 4 hits while walking a pair. He gave up a long 2-run home run to Angels’ catcher, Martin Maldonado, but quickly rebounded, striking out the next two batters he faced to retire the Angels in the 7th inning.
Martes will make his first MLB start on Wednesday against AL West rival, the Texas Rangers. He will be filling the slot of Lance McCullers in the rotation and will most likely be pushed to the bullpen or back to the minors once Lance returns.
The right-hander showed off his 95-97 MPH fastball, which he could blow by hitters if he located it. He also had an 82-84 MPH slider, which he showcased in Class AAA. He struggled at Class AAA Fresno, posting a 5.29 ERA, going 0-2 in 8 starts.
Last season at Class AA Corpus Christi, Martes went 9-6 with a 3.30 ERA in 25 games. If the Astros weren’t struggling with rotation health, Martes would still be developing in the minor leagues. With a 95-MPH fastball for a starter and a nasty slider, he could become just as deadly as RHP Noah Syndergaard of the New York Mets.
His future is still in the balance with the Houston Astros. Recently, starters with his stuff coming up from the minor leagues become relief pitchers. Cleveland Indians LHP Andrew Miller and Seattle Mariners RHP Edwin Diaz were top starters in their minor leagues, but once they turned to relievers, they became the best relievers on their team respectively.
If he stays as a starter, he will most likely be an AL version of Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard, with his power fastball and a nasty slider. Once he can cut down the walks and learn how to paint the corners, his stuff could be un-hittable.
American League teams should fear this young right-hander, because he could become a major threat in the postseason as the Houston Astros still have a 12-game lead over the second-place Angels in the AL West. They look to sweep their next series against the Texas Rangers and Francis Martes could be a major factor in the series.