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The Astros are calling up top pitching prospect Francis Martes

Francis Martes

Francis Martes

By Matt Snyder

The Astros have lost two straight, but still easily have the best record in baseball at 42-18. They’re also bringing up some pitching help.

Francis Martes is a 21-year-old right-hander who was signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Marlins as a teenager. He went to the Astros in the deal that sent Jarred Cosart to the Marlins and Jake Marisnick to Houston.

Baseball America ranked Martes as the 17th-best prospect in baseball heading into the season. MLB.com had Martes 20th, saying, “he can work at 93-96 mph and reach 98 with his fastball, and while it doesn’t feature a ton of life, he does show some feel for moving it around the strike zone. His curveball gives him a second well above-average pitch, combining power and depth.”

Martes has started eight games for Triple-A Fresno this season, going 0-2 with a 5.29 ERA, 2.10 WHIP and 38 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings. More head-scratching on the promotion is that Martes has walked 28 batters (7.8 BB/9). Worth note is that Martes started slow last season in Double-A and then closed really strong, posting a 2.52 ERA with 114 strikeouts in 103 2/3 innings in his last 19 starts.

As a reliever, perhaps Martes will focus only on the aforementioned fastball and curveball, his two best pitches. As a starter he also works in a changeup and slider.

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