Culver Baseball Star Chooses San Diego State

By Fred Altieri

Sports Reporter

The 2015 holiday season arrived early for Nolan Martinez and his family, precisely on Wednesday, November 11.

That's when the Culver City High senior signed a letter of intent to attend San Diego State University on a full athletic scholarship to play baseball starting in Fall 2016.

"My family was really excited. We went out to dinner after I signed. I was glad that it was finally official. Thankfully the process is over and I'm glad of the choice I made," began Martinez.

"I played a tournament at San Diego State the summer going into my sophomore year. The school coaches saw me play and liked me. That's when they offered me a scholarship to play baseball there.

"Since then we stayed in touch and took some visits down there. We really liked it. First of all it's in San Diego, which is an awesome place. We thought: "Why not chose this school?" It seemed like the right fit. But nothing was official until now."

Martinez, a right-hander, was one of the pitching aces for Culver High this past season. He along with senior southpaw pitcher Jay Sterner led the Centaurs to a 6-3 Ocean League record and a playoff berth.

Martinez, who has lived his entire life in Culver City, attended Culver City Middle School, went to St. Bernard High in Playa del Rey his freshman year before enrolling into Culver City High his sophomore year.

"I started playing baseball when I was five years old and have played organized ball since I was ten. I played in the Culver City Little League and then in the Westchester Babe Ruth League. That's when we won the World Series," said Martinez.

"My dad is a real good soccer player and he coached me in baseball until I was about 12 years old. Even though he realized he couldn't teach me any more about the game he still supported me."

Martinez has mainly been a pitcher, an outfielder and a first baseman throughout his career. For the past two years he has been working with a pitching coach, Jim Wagner of Valencia. The Culver High coaches have also been instrumental in his development.

"The coach that helped me a lot was Chip Netzel. I first met him playing in the Culver City Little League. He taught me everything: how to throw, how to field, hit, catch. His son Michael (senior and four-year Culver varsity baseball player) and I go back a long time.

"Coach (Culver head coach Rick) Prieto is by my side. If he sees something wrong with my hitting he'll tell me about it. I'll try it out and if it works, great. I've kind of always played first base. Coach Prieto put me there also to save my arm and keep me healthy. He's definitely helped."

The list of travel and all-star teams Martinez has played on through this past summer is impressive: Yankees Scout Team (2014/2015), Milwaukee Brewers Scout Team (2015), Brewers Team - Area Code Games (2015) and the Garciaparra Baseball Group.

He also played in the Upperclass Tournament organized by eight MLB Teams for the top 250 high school players in the country at Blair Field, Long Beach.

Martinez: "I chose San Diego State because I like the coaches, the students and the campus. Everything is really close. You can walk from one end of the campus to the other in 10 minutes. The baseball field is on campus so I won't have to drive to the field."

A number of Southland college baseball powers were also interested in Martinez including UCLA, Fullerton and Cal State Long Beach.

"San Diego State wants me as an outfielder and a pitcher. I like both positions because I also like to hit... a lot. UCLA only wanted me as a pitcher. That's why I didn't want to go there. I don't want to just pitch... I want to hit, too," stated Martinez.

His predominant pitches are a fastball and a curveball. He has also developed into a power hitter. "I started hitting before I started pitching," said Martinez.

"I realized I could hit with real power last season during practice when I hit a ball over the softball field fence beyond our centerfield. I thought: "O.K. This is not normal. That's when I realized I was getting stronger and the workouts were working."

There are academic interests as well as athletic dreams for Martinez: "I like history. I'm going to study kinesiology. I'd like to be a personal trainer or a physical therapist.

"My ultimate goal is to play professional baseball and hopefully get to the Big Leagues. I'm just going to keep practicing, working out and try to get as good as I can be."

While training and preparing for the upcoming Centaur baseball season Martinez continues to enjoy his final year at Culver High: "I grew up with all the kids that go here now. We're all seniors so that's pretty fun.

"This school year has been easy because of my schedule but it helps that I don't have to worry anymore about where I'll be going. It's a relief."


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