Nolan Martinez Reviews His Path To The Yankees

Culver Pitcher Chosen High In Baseball Draft

"On Friday morning I woke up around 9:30ish and I was with my grandma and my grandpa on my way to go lifting weights. That's when I got the call. It was kind of out of nowhere so it caught me by surprise. Honestly, I was shocked, grateful and astounded," began Nolan Martinez.

Bobby De Jardin (Southern California area scout with the New York Yankees) called me and said: "We just drafted you." I told him: "Really?" To get drafted by a team of this caliber with all of its great history... I felt honored."

The New York Yankees selected the Culver City High pitcher in the third round of the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft on June 10. He was the 98th selection overall of the 1216 players drafted. It was a remarkable way to begin the day as Martinez also graduated from Culver High that same evening.

The right-handed senior who helped lead the Centaurs to a perfect 10-0 Ocean League title this season is 6-2 tall and 165 lbs. He had signed a letter of intent to attend San Diego State University last November on a full athletic scholarship to play baseball starting this coming fall.

Martinez: "I was graduating the day that I got the call. It was kind of cool because one of the assistant principals before the big ceremony when we were in the auditorium gave me kind of a shout out. So then all the students knew that I got drafted."

He continued: "Most likely my performance this year brought me up in the ranks. I kind of knew what I had to do from what happened last year. I realized that I starting throwing harder. Over the summer I realized that things were getting more serious.

"So when the season started I thought: first of all it is my last high school season ever and I have a potential shot at being drafted pretty high. I just put my mind to it and started working hard to fulfill my dreams.

"My parents helped me the whole way. They paid for the pitching lessons, the hitting lessons, the private workouts, the trainers, all the equipment and all that stuff. They drove me around, they drove me to Arizona 400 times... without them I wouldn't have gotten to where I am now.

"My teammates have also always been there for me. We just hang out outside of baseball and school. They're a big part of my life, just having them there to back me up whenever I needed any help with anything. I always have that good feeling that they're there for me."

Martinez and his family will decide where he will be spending the next several years: either attend San Diego State on an athletic scholarship or sign a contract with the Yankees to pursue a career as a professional baseball pitcher.

"It's a big family decision that we have to make. It'll be a big pro/con sheet. What are the pros to playing baseball out of high school and what are the pros to going to college and getting drafted out of college? So it's kind of like a fight between both sides," stated Martinez.

"I'm going to see if I can push it back and try to make a decision after my birthday on June 30. But if it doesn't work out that way, I'm fine. I'm okay with it. But I want to go out and play. Ever since I started playing baseball I wanted to play Major League Baseball"

"The process was really crazy. It was very stressful. The first day, Thursday, I was anxious just trying to see if I was going to get a call from a team to draft me. It kept going on and on an on. Unfortunately it didn't happen that day. But it happened the day after. That was the good part."

Martinez' path to success was a tried and true one: a dream, hard work, perseverance and plenty of help from his family, coaches and teammates.

"Coach (Rick) Prieto brought in more coaches this year to help in each area: the infield, the outfield, batting, pitching and so forth. I think the coaches not only helped me but the whole team in terms of input and energy," said Martinez.

Coach Netzel always pushed us and gave us that momentum to try to get to the CIF Championships. The defense was great and always there and I don't think I could have done it with anyone else except Jacob (Weiner) at catcher.

"We've always have been pushed in a sense by the better teams. We've had this family mentality because we've been playing together forever. We had that motivation and were playing better and better. So we have actually had a chance to do something with it this high school season."

The Yankees were just one of a dozen and more Major League teams that heavily scouted Martinez during this past season. One could see plenty of radar guns aimed at his fastball among the growing crowds that watched the Centaur baseball games this spring. His father helped keep things organized and in perspective.

"My dad helped spot everybody out. He'd tell me: "The Indians are here" or "the Dodgers are here" or something like if there is more than one Dodger guy here. So we knew which ones were the more likely to draft me if they brought in more than just themselves.

"They used this word "helium" a lot. Helium, like the balloon. I guess that's the kids rising up. But I was just happy that I got drafted in the third round by the Yankees. It was one of those moments."

Notably, Martinez still made his weight lifting workout his grandparents were driving him to on Friday morning despite getting the excellent news from the Yankees.

"A little bit of everything contributed in preparing me: an accumulation of hard work, the mental side of the game and me wanting to actually go out and do what I want to do for a living, per se."

Martinez concluded with one final pitch: "Culver City High was great. It's where I had some of the best moments of my life. The fact is that now it's over. But I had a great time in the three years I'd been there. I really liked going there with the friends I grew up with."


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