Ethan Martin, the 23-year-old righty hurler that was acquired along with Josh Lindblom and a player to be named later just prior to the non-waiver trading deadline from the Los Angeles Dodgers, is adapting quickly to his new home, Reading, PA. In three starts since joining the Phillies organization, Martin has posted a 3-0 record with a 2.08 ERA while striking out 13 and walking five in 17 1/3 innings.
Originally selected by Los Angeles in the 1st round (15th overall) in the 2008 amateur draft out of Stephens County High School in Georgia, Martin had not posted great numbers as a pro prior to this season. In his first three years in the minors, Martin sported a 24-29 record with a 5.42 ERA. However, this year, with Double-A Chattanooga, Martin tallied an 8-6 record with a 3.56 ERA en route to becoming a Southern League All-Star.
Prior to the 2012 season, Martin, who stands 6-feet-2-inches tall and weighs around 195 pounds, was rated as the Dodgers’ number 17 prospect by Baseball America.
Recently, I spoke with Ethan about being involved in a trade for MLB All-Star Shane Victorino, his own pitch repertoire, Phillies fans and plenty more. For the full Q&A, read ahead or check out the media player below to hear that interview.
Jay Floyd: You joined the Phillies here recently, in the deadline deal for Shane Victorino. I wanted to get your thoughts on that move and what your excitement level was like to be joining the Phillies organization.
Ethan Martin: It was pretty- kind of crazy, you know. I got the phone call early in the morning and from there it was just a hectic day on that day, the Monday or Tuesday or whatever it was. But having a team that wants me like they did and being in that trade it makes me feel good, deep down. So, just coming over here to an organization like the Phillies are and with all the pitching they have, and with all the different things they’ve done in the past by winning and everything, you know, it’s pretty exciting. Good to be a part of that.
JF: I talk to a lot of guys and, whether it’s trade rumors or actual trades, they’ll describe the disappointment with leaving an organization they may have been drafted by or came up with, that disappointment goes away when they realize there’s a team that wants them so badly that a team would trade away an established guy, like an All-Star. So, that’s a fully legitimate feeling and fully verified by you?
EM: Oh, yeah. I mean, of course I didn’t want to leave- the Dodgers drafted me and that’s all I really knew, but that wasn’t the big part, you know. The Dodgers…would I love to play for them? Yeah, but I whoever I can make it up to play for, you know. The hardest part of it was leaving some of the guys I spent the last four years with. But, now, coming over here and just meeting these guys, same thing. You meet new friends and get acquainted with new guys and I’m starting to love it now.
JF: And you mentioned time spent in the Dodgers organization and you had a couple rough years and then this year you come back in the Southern League, establishing yourself as an All-Star…was it a big relief to really start to establish yourself as a really good performer there?
EM: Oh, yeah, absolutely. Years prior to this year have kind of been up and down, a little rough for me. And being able to go out, day in and day out, that was a big relief for me.
JF: Through your career, you’ve always posted big strike out numbers, with a 9.3 K/9 mark. What’s your pitch repertoire like and what do you consider your out pitch?
EM: I just consider slider or curve ball as my out pitch. I’ll throw a fast ball and try to get ahead with that, there’s pretty good life on it, so, you know, using that and then the slider and curve ball.
JF: Where’s the velocity for you and what’s the drop-off when you throw the off-speed stuff?
EM: Fastball can range from 92 to 97 and I’ve hit 99 before, but I usually sit between 92 and 94. Then the slider’s like 84 to 86. And the curve ball’s like 78, so…
JF: So we get the full evaluation of the pitch menu there. Other than that, though, what are some things you might cite if you were asked to scout yourself?
EM: My command. I’ve got to get that better. The walks are still there. They’re coming down a lot, but they’re still there, so I’ve gotta get control of that. I think once I get that, I should be a lot better off.
JF: Fresh after joining the Phillies organization you get to go home there to Reading for a home stand and, obviously, it’s the local environment. You get a lot of Phillies fans there. You come out to Trenton and it’s a short trip away and there are still a lot of Phillies fans. Just talk about that and maybe being greeted in a different fashion than other teams you’ve played for or other leagues you’ve played in where there aren’t local big league fans like there are near Philadelphia.
EM: Yeah, especially with Chattanooga. Double-A was in Chattanooga, TN, there’s no Dodgers fans there. You might have one here or there, but coming here and just the way the town is in Reading, just they way everybody is- just all about it…it’s pretty fun and makes it better to play in too.
JF: Overall, joining the new team, in the thick of the hunt for a playoff spot, how crucial is it, what’s the energy like and is this really important to the team right now?
EM: Yeah, absolutely. We all want to go out there and win a championship, so just coming here and joining them, when they’re in the hunt, it’s been exciting.
JF: You earned a win in your Phillies organization debut and doing a solid job since joining the team. Just your thoughts on your efforts thus far wearing Phillies red…?
EM: I just try to go out there and do the same thing as I would do with any uniform on, just making my pitches and just give the team a chance to win.
(For the previous few questions, R-Phils third baseman Cody Asche had been playfully mocking me and offering his bat as a microphone for Ethan to speak toward as he answered questions)
JF: And we’ve got Cody Asche here, riding copilot for the interview, fake microphoning it, with a bat. What are your thoughts on Cody Asche thus far?
EM: (Laughter) Everybody’s been great. Everybody’s been able to accept me and I just really appreciate that.
JF: Sounds good. Before becoming a professional, who were some players you looked up to, growing up?
EM: Being from Georgia, you know, I looked up to Smoltz and Maddux and all them. But my favorite player ever was David Justice. Just watching him play every year, especially when they were pretty fun to watch back in the 90’s.
JF: Absolutely. And you clearly grew up as an Atlanta fan. Joining a division rival organization, is the family torn?
EM: No, I mean, my family’s been supportive playing with whoever. But, I’ve had some friends say it’s gonna be hard to pull for the Phillies, being in the same division as the Braves, but they’re all just giving me a hard time. Everybody back home’s real supportive. It’s part of it. They understand and they’re right there with me.
Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league insider. You can read more from Jay by visiting his site, PhoulBallz.com.