August 7th, 2013
Jerad Eickhoff and Nick Martinez arrived in Springfield, Missouri yesterday to join the team as they opened a six-game road trip with three against the Springfield Cardinals. Eickhoff made an immediate impact, starting the game for the ‘Riders last night in the 4-3 walk-off defeat. After a shaky three-run first inning, Eickhoff faced two over the minimum through the next four innings. He allowed a walk and a lone single–that was it. He picked up a no-decision.
Nick Martinez makes his Double-A debut at ONEOK Field on Saturday against the Tulsa Drillers.
To introduce you to these two guys a bit, an excerpt from the press release over at RidersBaseball.com:
Eickhoff, 23, receives his first career promotion to Double-A and is expected to start tonight’s series opener at the Springfield Cardinals. Drafted by Texas in the 15th round of the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft, the right-hander has spent the entire season in the Pelicans rotation. In 21 starts, he posted a 7-3 record and a 3.41 ERA. The Evansville, Illinois native struck out 80 batters in 116 innings with 26 walks allowed. A reliever in his first professional season in 2011, Eickhoff has pitched just once out of the bullpen over the last two seasons. In 2012 with Hickory, he posted a 13-7 record, and his 13 wins were tied for the second most in team history.
Martinez, 23, was drafted by the Rangers in 2011 as well, taken in the 18th round out of Fordham University. Like Eickhoff, Martinez began 2013 in the Myrtle Beach rotation (aside from one relief appearance) and is making his first trip to Double-A. In 22 outings for the Pelicans, he went 10-7 with a 2.87 ERA. Ranked #27 by Baseball America among Rangers prospects entering 2012, the Carolina League All-Star fanned 105 and walked 38 in 119.1 innings before his promotion. The former Fordham Ram pitched in relief and played second base in college. His All-Star selection this season marked the second straight year he has participated in his league’s mid-season All-Star Game, as he earned the same honors in the South Atlantic League in 2012.
A bit outdated at this point, Jason Cole of Baseball Prospectus wrote this in July 2011:
Since signing with the Rangers, the 6-foot-4 hurler has displayed solid command of a 91-94 mph fastball. He also mixes in a 73-75 mph curveball, which has good shape but is deliberate out of the hand and lags behind his fastball.
I got an update from Jason today though, who saw Jerad in early July of this year:
Eickhoff is almost like a Nick Tepesch starter kit. The arsenal is very similar, and he’ll have to make some of the same improvements Tepesch made. I think he profiles as a no. 4 or 5 starter at the end of the day. He’s a big right-hander with a durable build and a nice command/control profile.
When I saw him with Myrtle Beach last month, he sat comfortably in the low-90s with his four-seam fastball and not only held velocity, but he also touched 94-95 mph pretty consistently while working out of his jam near the 100-pitch mark. He’s also got an upper-80s cutter, a changeup that has progressed well this year, and a curveball.
For me, the curve will be the biggest key for Eickhoff. It’s a fringy pitch right now. If he can bring the curveball along over the next year or two into even an average offering, it’s going to make a big difference. He doesn’t project for a plus secondary pitch and won’t miss a lot of bats, but he should throw strikes with a big body and a deep arsenal.
The velocity stuck around last night as well, with Jerad throwing in the low to mid 90s near the end of his 81 pitch start (touching 97 mph on what appeared to be a hot gun in Springfield). His next start comes Sunday night in Tulsa in the road trip finale. He lines up to make his Dr Pepper Ballpark debut on Saturday, August 17.
Here are the numbers on Eickhoff:
An interesting story, Martinez is just two years removed from being drafted by Texas and converted to a full-time pitcher. The Fordham University product was a middle-of-the-order bat that played second base and was used out of the bullpen as a college player, but has quickly adapted to the starting rotation as a pro.
Jason Cole sent over his thoughts on Martinez as well, who he saw on the same trip to Salem while the Pelicans were in town last month:
Martinez is an intriguing guy because he was primarily a second baseman in college. He’d come in and relieve maybe once per weekend. The Rangers liked the arm, athleticism, and delivery, though, and snapped him up as a pitcher in the draft. Martinez took to full-time pitching immediately and showed good command of an 88-94 mph fastball in his first season. The velocity is the same today.
He, like Eickhoff, doesn’t necessarily have a dominant secondary pitch, but he has pitchability with a mix of four usable pitches – fastball, slider, curveball, changeup. It’s a back of the rotation ceiling or perhaps long man/up-and-down profile, but an overall intriguing arm worth watching. He has adjusted his delivery a bit this year to get a little more downward angle on his stuff, and I think it has translated well. As a result, his ground-ball rates have improved and the command/control has remained the same as last year, which is solid.
Baseball America, who ranked Martinez #27 among Rangers prospects entering 2013, adds that “his breaking ball has made the most progress of any of his secondary pitches since he signed.”
Following his ‘Riders debut on Sunday, he would line up to make his Dr Pepper Ballpark debut in the home stand finale on Sunday, August 18.
And the stats on Martinez:
- ‘Riders return to action in Springfield tonight at 7:09 p.m.
- Neil Ramirez returns from disabled list tonight and makes his first outing since July 19. He was placed on the DL on July 24, retroactive to July 21, with an injury to his right shoulder.
- Correspondingly, the RoughRiders have placed LHP Alex Claudio on the 7-day disabled list.
- Read more in tonight’s game notes
- Want to tune in…find out how
Baseball term of the day: yakker – curve ball
(Term from MLB.com Baseball Basics: Lingo)