Martin finds groove at the right time

Phillies' No. 2 prospect tosses six-two hit innings for IronPigs

By Jonathan Raymond / | July 23, 2013 7:52 PM ET

Ethan Martin was a trade deadline acquisition for the Phillies last year as they sought to spin a few assets -- in this case, Shane Victorino -- into long-term value.

With this year's deadline looming, Martin could serve the same purpose -- albeit on a short-term basis -- if Philadelphia's front office decides it could use an extra arm.

The Phillies' second-ranked prospect allowed two hits and struck out six over six scoreless frames Tuesday night as Triple-A Lehigh Valley shut down Rochester, 8-1.

Martin's proven he can handle a hefty workload, ranking eighth in the International League with 109 2/3 innings. And lately, he's flashing the same stuff that made him such a valuable commodity in last year's Victorino deal.

"I think I'm starting to get a feel for my mechanics and my body back," he said. "I had it last year pretty well, but I'm starting to get that back the last month or so. Just getting back ahead early with the fastball has helped a tremendous amount in those starts."

Martin (11-5) notched a 3.48 ERA with 147 strikeouts and 79 walks over 157 2/3 innings last year between Double-A Chattanooga and Reading.

This season, the 24-year-old right-hander has been remarkably consistent since recording a 7.66 ERA in April. He compiled a 3.62 ERA in May, a 3.41 mark in June and has a 3.52 ERA this month.

Lately, though, he's been at his best. With an ERA hovering just above 5.00 on June 24, he's 3-2 with a 2.61 ERA over his last starts to bring that statistic down to 4.35. For the season, he's recorded 99 strikeouts against 64 walks after issuing three free passes on Tuesday.

"I was watching video, trying to figure out how to get back to where I was, and I did something in one start, felt comfortable and worked off that," Martin explained. "Basically, I wasn't going out there like, 'Well, OK, it's just going to come back.' I worked hard, grinding with it. Even though the results were not good, I was working at it and started to figure out what I was doing wrong and feel the right way to do it again.

"It's always good to go out there and pitch good and feel like things are turning better than what it was early in the year."

Cody Asche -- the Phils' No. 9 prospect -- also showed he might be able to help the big league club get back into the thick of the playoff race if called upon. He swatted his 11th and 12th homers in support of Martin.

In 98 games, the 23-year-old third baseman is hitting .292/.350/.463 with 60 RBIs.

"[Asche] has been consistent all year, just producing pretty good offense all year," Martin said. "He's in the middle of the order and gets his hits, and to watch him tonight, that took some stress off me, getting ahead early in the game and getting those runs. And he hit that last one to dead center, it was pretty sweet."

Freddy Galvis doubled and drove in a couple of runs, while Cameron Rupp slugged a solo shot for the IronPigs.

Jonathan Raymond is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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