Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Michael Wacha vs. Carlos Martinez

Most teams consider themselves fortunate if they have one potential top of the rotation prospect in their farm system.  The Cardinals are blessed with two of them.

Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez both rank amongst the top 50 prospects in baseball and, after weighing possible trades involving either of these fine young pitchers, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak wisely decided to hold on to both of them.

But, forced to choose, which one would you rather build your future starting rotation around?

Heading into this season, Martinez was generally regarded as the better prospect than Wacha.  Martinez had the higher upside of the two, while Wacha was considered more polished or, as scouts like to say, Martinez had a higher ceiling, but Wacha had a higher floor.

However, after a strong spring, in which he allowed only 1 unearned run in 11.2 innings, and a strong, albeit brief, stint in the majors, it appears that Wacha has passed Martinez in some scouts' eyes.

Baseball America ranks Wacha as the 12th best prospect and Martinez 24th on their midseason top 50, while MLB.com has Wacha 18th and Martinez 26th. 

Meanwhile, John Sickels still believes in Martinez, ranking him 9th and Wacha 17th on his midseason top 75 prospects, while Baseball Prospectus has them about even with Wacha 21st and Martinez 22nd.

Personally, I like them both and would not want to part with either of them.  I'm already envisioning a future homegrown starting rotation of Adam Wainwright (yes, I know he wasn't drafted by the Cards, but he was acquired as a minor leaguer), Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez.

However, if I had to choose, I think I would have to pick Martinez.  He has the stuff to be a #1 or #2 starter and seems to be putting it all together in AAA, with a 1.76 ERA in 10 starts. Wacha, on the other hand, is still considered a #3 starter at best by some scouts.  If Martinez can live up to his potential, I think he can be much more dominant than Wacha and therefore more valuable in the long run.

But that's just me.  What do you think?  If you had to choose one or the other, who would you pick?  I'll post a poll on the homepage for your answers.

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