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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Kyle Martin: Versatile Pitching Prospect Making a Name for Himself with the Boston Red Sox

These days, the Boston Red Sox seem to collect pitching prospects like someone from high society might accumulate bottles of fine Chardonnay.  With enough impressive young hurlers to conceivably fill several pitching staffs of the future, competition is tight in the Boston system. One of the young arms working hard to earn his chance is Kyle Martin.
The lanky right-hander joined the Red Sox earlier this year as a ninth-round draft choice out of Texas A&M University (where he sported a truly outstanding mustache). He was drafted by the Chicago White Sox last year, but elected to return to school to complete his senior season.

Interestingly, Martin’s coach at St. Michael’s Catholic Academy (high school) was former Red Sox pitcher Calvin Schiraldi. He helped the youngster earn a college scholarship at a major program.

Martin began his Aggie career as a reliever, with a deceptive side-arm delivery. He switched to starting during his senior year (switching to a more traditional overhand delivery), and took well to the conversion.

During his college career he posted a combined 11-12 record with a 4.33 ERA. His versatility is reminiscent of former Boston pitcher Justin Masterson, who has experienced success in the majors pitching both out of the bullpen and a rotation, and also sports a side-armed delivery.

After signing his first professional contract, Martin joined the short-season Lowell Spinners. He pitched extremely well and earned a promotion to Single-A Greenville shortly thereafter. For the year, he combined for a 4-2 record, 1.25 ERA and three saves in 19 relief appearances. He struck out 30 batters in 36 innings while permitting just 19 hits.

Martin will be 23 at the start of the 2014 season. With a successful first season under his belt, he has made quite a good initial impression. It remains to be seen if he will wind up as a starter or reliever but for now he is doing what he is asked and hoping to rise up the ranks of Boston’s pitching prospects.

Kyle Martin Interview:

Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?: As a young baseball fan, I had a ton of favorite players. Derek Jeter was a big one; pretty much the entire 90s Braves’ pitching staff, but I really enjoyed watching Randy Johnson take the mound. I was intrigued by his height, as I was told by doctors, relatives and parents that I would be tall. I also learned to enjoy his attack and velocity. He was one of the most feared pitchers, and I liked that thought.

How did you wind up attending Texas A&M?: Both of my parents attended A&M as well as other relatives, so as many Aggies can attest you are born into the Aggie family and brainwashed growing up. When I went on a recruiting trip there, I fell in love with it even more. The coaching staff at A&M, headed up with Rob Childress, does a great job at that program getting players ready for professional baseball like Alex Wilson (Red Sox), Brooks Raley (Cubs), and Michael Wacha (Cardinals) to name a few.

Can you describe what your draft experience was like?: Draft experience was very intense and nerve-racking. I was at home with my family and girlfriend sitting around the computer, waiting for that call! After the call from the Red Sox and my agent, I felt tremendously relieved and got to celebrate with my close family and friends.

How did you first find out that the Red Sox were interested in you?: I never really knew what teams specifically were interested in me until a few months before the draft. I found out the Red Sox were interested in me in the 6-10 round range a few days before the draft.

Can you describe what you throw for pitches?: I throw all two-seam fastballs that have sink to them, a changeup, a slider and a curveball.

What was the most difficult part about the life of a professional player to get used to besides the travel?: I would say the most difficult adjustment in pro ball other than the travel is the alone time. In college with classes, practice, games, weekends it is easy to go through an entire week without spending time other than sleeping without something to do. In pro ball, we are either at the field or back in the hotels or apartments without a car. We get to know each other very well as hanging out with teammates is ultimately the most fun we have.

You used to throw side-armed. Can you explain why you changed back to an over-the-top delivery?: At Texas A&M, I had a choice to help my team as a set up guy in the bullpen if I changed my arm slot to sidearm as a sophomore. I stuck with that slot until I changed back over to the over-the-top delivery my senior year of college. The change was for many reasons mainly being to become more projectable to scouts for professional baseball. The change is still ongoing as I continue to perfect my delivery and work on consistently repeating it.

You started the 2013 season with Lowell, but were eventually promoted to Greenville. Can you please talk a little bit about how you found out about your promotion and what that feeling was like?: I got the promotion call immediately following the (Jake) Peavy deal. A couple players in Greenville had just gotten traded and I was lucky enough to be called up to fill those spots. It was a quick transition from getting the call at 2:30 a.m. to being on a flight at 7:30 a.m. I consider myself very blessed to have gotten the opportunity to play in front of both crowds, and hope to continue to receive those opportunities.

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