Before he was optioned to Minor League camp this Spring, 30-year-old right-hander Rafael Martin gave up six hits and one earned run (1.35 ERA) in 6 ⅔ innings pitched, with two walks, seven Ks and a .250 BAA in limited time in Grapefruit League action.
Martin impressed this Spring, and he was coming off a dominant season in the oganization.
The reliever made two stops in the Nats' system in 2014, posting a 2.70 ERA, a 2.90 FIP, five walks (2.25 BB/9) and 20 Ks (9.00 K/9) in 20 IP at Double-A Harrisburg and a 0.80 ERA, 1.49 FIP, seven walks (2.25 BB/9) and 42 Ks (11.23 K/9) in 33 ⅔ IP at Triple-A Syracuse.
The Nationals signed Martin as a free agent out of the Mexican League in 2010. Second-year skipper Matt Williams liked what he saw from the journeyman bullpen arm this Spring.
"'He gets people out,'" Williams told reporters, including MLB.com's Bill Ladson, after Martin was optioned out.
"'He changes speeds. He throws it where he wants it to. He is able to control both sides of the plate with his slider. He has a surprising fastball, too. He throws strikes, works quickly and fields his position. He does anything he wants.'"
When reporters got into the clubhouse this afternoon before tonight's 6:05 PM game against the Red Sox in Boston's Fenway Park, both MASNSports.com's Dan Kolko and Washington Post writer James Wagner noticed that Martin's name was included on the Nationals' roster:
Xavier Cedeno not listed on Nats' lineup card. Righty Rafael Martin is.— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) April 14, 2015
Rafael Martin is listed on the Nats lineup card today. Xavier Cedeno is not and doesn't have a locker in the clubhouse.— James Wagner (@JamesWagnerWP) April 14, 2015
There was no official word from the Nationals at first, but Cedeno has struggled early this season, giving up three hits, two runs and two walks in three innings of work in which he's thrown two wild pitches and hit one batters while recording four Ks. The move leaves the Nationals with just one left-handed reliever, Matt Thornton, in the bullpen.
The Nationals made the decision official in the few minutes, annoucing that they selected Martin's contract and designated Cedeno for assignment:
The #Nats have selected the contract of RHP Rafael Martin and designated LHP Xavier Cedeno for assignment.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 14, 2015