Looking back at the Cardinals' 10 most disappointing prospects of the past decade

Many St. Louis Cardinals fans have a propensity to overhype prospects. These 10 players indicate that it's often best to keep expectations measured.
St. Louis Cardinals v Baltimore Orioles
St. Louis Cardinals v Baltimore Orioles / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages
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7. Carlos Martinez

Carlos Martinez had as much pure stuff as any pitcher in recent memory, and he showed flashes of greatness during his nine seasons with the Cardinals, but the volatile hurler's inability to put everything together for a sustained stretch led to frustration from the club and from fans.

The Cardinals signed Martinez out of the Dominican Republic for a $1.5 million bonus in 2010 and skipped him over the lower minor league levels, and he eventually made his debut with the Cardinals in 2013 at age 21. Baseball America had Martinez ranked as the team's third-best prospect at the time and 38th in all of baseball.

Martinez was inserted into the Cardinals starting rotation in 2015, the year in which he made his first All-Star appearance. He finished with a 3.01 ERA, although a shoulder strain in late September led him to miss the postseason.

Early in 2016, Martinez briefly left the team to settle a civil suit filed against him, with suspected domestic violence allegations. Unfazed, the Cardinals signed Martinez to a five-year extension in 2017, where he would make his second All-Star appearance. However, injuries and off-the-field controversies would soon become emblematic of Martinez's career.

In 2019, while recovering from an oblique strain, Martinez was criticized by the Cardinals for not following the proper rehab process, which delayed his arrival and led him to serve as the team's closer instead of being stretched out to start. Off the field, Martinez was seen violating COVID-19 restrictions in the Dominican Republic in 2020.

After the Cardinals declined his option for 2022, Martinez attempted to catch on with the San Franciso Giants but was released in May. He was then suspended for 80 games after testing positive for a banned substance and was soon suspended for 85 more games after violating MLB's domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy.

Now pitching in the Mexican League, Martinez shouldn't be considered a failure with the Cardinals, but for a player with so much talent, it's hard not to think of his time in St. Louis as one with so much unfulfilled promise.