On Friday morning, the St. Louis Cardinals made a major move intended to shore up their shaky bullpen. The club purchased the contract of right-handed pitcher Carlos Martinez from Double-A Springfield and optioned beleaguered reliever Mitchell Boggs to Triple-A Memphis. Martinez will join the Cardinals for Friday night’s game in Milwaukee.
Martinez had to be added to the 40-man roster and in his first appearance, he will make his Major League debut. The 21-year-old becomes the third minor leaguer in the last week to be placed on the 40-man in conjunction with being promoted to St. Louis, joining Jermaine Curtis and Seth Maness.
To accommodate Martinez on the 40-man, the Cardinals transferred shortstop Rafael Furcal from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list, where he joins Chris Carpenter.
Martinez, The Cardinal Nation’s fifth-ranked prospect, was 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA in three starts for the Springfield club, striking out nine batters in 11 2/3 innings pitched. He features an upper 90’s fastball and a plus curve.
Though Martinez had been expected to start the season at Memphis, a long delay in securing his entry visa led to the Dominican native beginning the season in extended spring training instead. He had been invited to his first major league camp, but missed out entirely. He joins new teammate Trevor Rosenthal as pitchers joining the major league club directly from Double-A.
For a bonus of $1.5 million, Martinez was signed by the Cardinals as a non-drafted free agent in April of 2010 after a problem with his paperwork led to a voided contract with Boston and a year suspension.
In the minors, the man originally known as Carlos Matias posted a career mark of 16-12 with a 2.74 ERA in 55 games (54 starts). The 6-foot-0, 185-pound right-hander was a combined 6-5 between Palm Beach and Springfield last season and ranked third among Cardinals minor league pitchers in ERA (2.93) and opponent’s batting average (.236).
While Martinez is a very promising pitcher, he is coming into a difficult situation. Given the problems with multiple pitchers in the Cardinals bullpen this season, expectations for him to be a difference-maker will be sky-high with the margin for error perhaps unfairly thin for a young man with zero innings pitched at Triple-A.
Boggs, 29, was one of the top set up men in baseball in 2012, but has struggled this season. When asked to close, he blew two of four opportunities. The right-hander has a 12.66 ERA and in his most recent outing Thursday night, walked two batters without securing an out.
In early 2011, Boggs also briefly held the closer’s job with the Cardinals before being sent down to Memphis. He made four Triple-A starts before returning to St. Louis’ bullpen, where he had remained since.
Neither corresponding transaction for the Double-A and Triple-A clubs has yet been announced.
To see the Cardinals 40-man roster and full minor league system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix at The Cardinal Nation blog.
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Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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