Marte Becomes Volatile Stock For Tigers

LAKELAND, FLA.—Righthander Luis Marte went from an off-the-radar pitcher to one of the better prospects in the Tigers system in 2008.

But Marte is again off the radar. And that's surprising, considering he is only 24 and features a repertoire that includes a fastball that sits at 92-94 mph with good movement when it's low in the strike zone, a power slider and a good changeup.

What happened?

Well, one problem is that injuries have slowed the 5-foot-11, 170-pounder's development. Signed as a 19-year-old out of the Dominican Republic, Marte's innings were limited by an elbow strain in 2008 and a shoulder strain the following season.

Marte also struggles with a lack of control. Last season, for example, he averaged nearly five walks per nine innings. But Jon Matlack, the Tigers' pitching coordinator, said the issue isn't a lack of command or a tendency to nibble.

"His control problems stem from over-aggressiveness," Matlack said. "He's very competitive.

"He wants to do so much, he gets so amped up and its hards for him to control what he is doing."

Marte was primarily a starter before last season but moved to the bullpen with Double-A Erie. He became the SeaWolves' closer and converted six saves before back-to-back misfires in late May seemed to derail his season.

"We wanted to give him a singular point of focus to help him be more effective, and we could do that with Luis in the bullpen," Matlack said of Marte's move. "If that is done right, we see him getting away from the over-aggressiveness that defeats him."

While he finished with a 5.06 ERA in 38 relief appearances for Erie, Marte also had 53 strikeouts in 48 innings. "He might be in a different role this season," Matlack said. "He's such a competitor, though, that he likes the more frequent activity. So, if all other things are even, he probably will stay in relief."


• The Tigers signed Dominican righthander Adrian Paniagua, 19, and Venezuelan lefthander Junior Camaripano, 17. The pair are expected to play for Detroit's summer teams in their native countries.

• Danry Vasquez, a 17-year-old Venezuelan outfielder signed for $1.2 million in July, will be in spring training.