Few players were more entertaining to watch over the course of their career than the one and only Pedro Martinez. Now that he has officially been inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame alongside Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, and Craig Biggio, let’s take a look back at the prospect who would go on to collect three Cy Young Awards, the pitching Triple Crown, and a World Series Championship.
In 1988, Pedro Martinez signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic at 16 years of age.
It wasn’t until he turned 18 in 1990 that Pedro would have his first crack at professional baseball in the United States playing in the Rookie League for the Great Falls Dodgers. The young righty had a great start to his career, striking out 82 batters in just 77 innings of work while walking only 40. Petey earned a record of 8-3 through 14 starts, carrying an ERA of 3.62 with a WHIP of 1.481. While his first year was considered a success, his second season would be outstanding.
Pedro’s sophomore year on the farm would grab the attention of the entire baseball world. Pedro started 1991 playing for the Single A Bakersfield Dodgers where he went 8-0 through 10 starts, striking out 83 batters in just 61.1 innings. His 2.05 ERA and .978 WHIP were enough to get him promoted to the Double A San Antonio Missions, where his 7-5 record through 12 starts was more than deceptive. While he wasn’t able to dominate hitters with strikeouts like he had in Bakersfield (74 strikeouts in 76.2 innings), his 1.76 ERA and 1.148 WHIP spoke volumes of his work on the mound and impressed the Dodgers brass enough to earn him another promotion. Pedro’s numbers became a little inflated once he got to Triple A Albuquerque, but he had exactly the kind of stuff that every GM wants to see out of a 19 year old pitcher. In 6 games for the Dukes, Pedro Martinez had a 3-3 record while posting a 3.66 ERA, 1.119 WHIP, and 35 strikeouts in 39.1 innings. He finished 1991 with a collective 18-9 record, 2.28 ERA, 1.083 WHIP, and 192 strikeouts in 177.1 innings. When Pedro took the mound, the baseball world took notice.
Heading into the 1992 season, Baseball America would rank Pedro Martinez as the number 10 overall prospect. Pedro would start 20 games for an Albuquerque Dukes team that featured future All-Stars such as Mike Piazza, Raul Mondesi, and Eric Young. His third minor league season resulted in a 7-6 record while posting an ERA of 3.81, 1.285 WHIP, and 124 strikeouts in 125.1 innings. Pedro debuted for the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 24, 1992. He pitched in just two games, starting one and finished with a 2.25 ERA while striking out eight in eight innings.
Pedro started 1993 as the 62nd ranked prospect by Baseball America. He excelled in 65 games as a reliever for the Dodgers, finishing his first full season with 119 strikeouts in 107 innings, while posting an ERA of 2.61 and a WHIP of 1.243. Pedro was traded during the 1993 offseason to the Montreal Expos in exchange for Delino Deshields. Montreal promptly plugged Pedro back into the starting role where he flourished for the remainder of his career.
Pedro Martinez’s career highlights include: 3x Cy Young Award (1997, 1999, 2000), World Series Champion (2004), Triple Crown (1999), 8x All-Star (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006), 3x AL Strikeout Leader (1999, 2000, 2002), 5x MLB ERA Leader (1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003).