With their third pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, the Yankees selected right-handed pitcher Nolan Martinez out of Culver City High School in California. Martinez hits as well as pitches, but scouts like his abilities on the mound more than at the plate. At 6'3" and 165 pounds, Martinez sits between 87-93 mph with his fastball that can touch 95. His spin rate was the best among pitchers at the World Wood Bat Association last October.
Aside from his fastball, Martinez throws a power slider in the upper 70s range that he can command for strikes. His third pitch is a seldom-used changeup, but the other two pitches are above-average. Scouts have taken notice of how good his stuff is despite the fact that Martinez isn't super typical on the projectability scale.
Scouts believe that Martinez's feel for pitching and repeatable delivery should help him in developing the all-important third pitch. With some added strength in the future, his velocity could go up a few ticks to help him out as well. He was ranked 67th by Baseball America, 99th by MLB.com, and 108th by Baseball Prospectus coming into the draft.
MLB.com graded Martinez's fastball as 55 on the 20-80 scale with his curveball and control each grading out at 50. His changeup, which is notably behind his other pitches, was graded at 45 for an overall grade of 45. He was ranked 10th in the state of California.
Martinez is currently committed to playing for San Diego State next year where he is said to have the ability to contribute as a corner infielder as well as a pitcher. That speaks well to his athleticism as a player, but it seems like he will inevitably end up on the mound, especially if he decides to sign instead of playing for the Aztecs next season.
The Yankees have done a lot of work drafting kids out of California the last couple of seasons, and Martinez is the second player taken by the team in this draft out of the state so far with Blake Rutherford being the first.
Grabbing a guy with the projectability factor is certainly something teams look for when drafting high school pitchers, and the sharp breaking ball that Martinez sports has given scouts a reason to think you can dream on him. Hopefully he can add some strength and a third pitch to boost his abilities even more.