Having a chance to fulfill a childhood dream could turn out to be the best thing to happen to Jarret Martin's career.
The Dodgers prospect gave up two hits and struck out five over seven shutout innings as Class A Great Lakes defeated Lansing, 7-1, on Wednesday.
Martin allowed a two-out double to Kevin Pillar in the first inning and a single to Chris Hawkins in the second. The 22-year-old left-hander also walked Carlos Perez to start the fifth before retiring the final nine batters to face him.
"We got a lead right in the first inning, so I was going out there and filling up the zone trying to give my team a chance to win," Martin said. "I was letting them put it into play and let my defense play behind me."
Originally an 18th-round pick of the Orioles in 2009, Martin was acquired by the Dodgers in the offseason from Baltimore in exchange for veteran hurler Dana Eveland. For the California native, the trade was a blessing.
"I actually grew up a Dodgers fan, and when I got the call that I was traded, I couldn't be more excited to play for my childhood team," Martin said. "It's been the greatest gift of my career.
"I went to Dodgers pitching camp in January and got my feet wet and we did a few mechanical changes that have been night and day for me. It's increased my velocity. My fastball has gone up from the 89-to 92-mph [range] and now it's from 91-95, peaking at 96 from time to time. Before my arm was dragging back and I wasn't able to be consistent in the strike zone. It wasn't up to par with where I'd like it to be. Now we have my hands break earlier to where my arms can catch up. It's a repeatable delivery that I can repeat every game."
Martin has enjoyed a strong 2012 campaign, going 2-1 with a 2.91 ERA in six starts for the Loons. He's yielded 27 hits in 34 innings of work and his 37 strikeouts currently pace the Midwest League.
"The key has been throwing strikes more consistently. In my past I've had a hard time controlling my fastball, and getting a high pitch count and giving up too many walks. For me, it's not even about striking guys out, it's about getting deep into the game and keeping the pitch count down."
Martin pitched in the South Atlantic League last season, going 5-12 with a 4.96 ERA in 31 outings for Delmarva. As such, his goals for the season are straight forward.
"I played Class A last year, so I'm a repeat offender," Martin said. "My goal is to make it the highest level possible, I'm shooting for Double-A. I'm trying to go out there and put up numbers and give my team a chance to win and give myself a chance to move up. My ultimate goal is to make it to the big leagues, and the more I can be in the zone and challenge the hitters and challenge myself, the sky is the limit."
Joseph Winker sparked the Loons' offense, driving in four runs and falling a triple shy of the cycle while Jesus Arredondo was 3-for-5 with two runs scored and two stolen bases.
Noah Syndergaard, the Blue Jays' No. 4 prospect, allowed three unearned runs and fanned five in three innings of relief for the Lugnuts.