Nick Martinez

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Nicholas Andres Martinez

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Biographical Information[edit]

Pitcher Nick Martinez made his major league debut in 2014.

As a college freshman, he hit .281/.357/.360 and pitched poorly (16 R in 6 2/3 IP). The second baseman improved his batting line to .305/.370/.385 in 2010 with 39 runs in 55 games and did not pitch. His junior year, he hit .292/.404/.376 with 46 runs in 51 games. He tied for 8th in the Atlantic-10 Conference in runs and tied for second in walks. He also returned to pitching, going 1-3 with 3 saves and a 2.75 ERA.

He was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 18th round of the 2011 amateur draft, out of Fordham University. Jay Heafner was the scout. Despite having spent much of his college career as an infielder, Texas used him as a pitcher. He began his pro career that year with the AZL Rangers and also pitched for the Spokane Indians that season. Between the two stops, he went 3-3 with a 2.30 ERA and struck out 56 in 58 2/3 innings, with a 1.83 ERA in the AZL and 2.54 after moving up to A ball.

In 2012, he moved up to the Hickory Crawdads of the South Atlantic League. He was 8-6, 4.83 in 31 games, making 20 starts and pitching 117 1/3 innings; his K/W ratio remained excellent at 109/37. In 2013, he started the year with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (10-7, 2.87), then was promoted to the Frisco Rough Riders of the AA Texas League in early August, going 2-0 with a 1.12 ERA there. His combined record was 12-7, 2.50. He allowed only 117 hits in 151 1/3 innings while striking out 128. He held left-handed batters to a .195 average and righties to .226. He was third in the Carolina League in ERA behind Cody Anderson and Blake Schwartz and was 6th in wins. Among Rangers farmhands, he tied Connor Sadzeck for the most wins, was third in ERA among hurlers with 100+ IP (trailing Ross Wolf and Sadzeck) and was 4th in Ks (between Carlos Pimentel and Neil Ramirez).

Now considered one of the top pitching prospects in the Rangers' organization, he attended the major league team's spring training in 2014 and surprised all onlookers by making the team's opening day roster. He beat out veteran starter Tommy Hanson, among others, and was scheduled to be the Rangers' fifth starter to begin the year. This was however contingent on how quickly ace Yu Darvish, who started the season on the disabled list, would be able to rejoin the team, as it was understood that Martinez would go back to AA to continue his apprenticeship as soon as that happened. When he made his debut on April 5th, he was the first Fordham alumnus to appear in the majors since Pete Harnisch in 2001 and the first to debut since Ray Montgomery in 1996. Starting against the Tampa Bay Rays that day, he gave up 3 runs in 6 innings and had a no-decision. He retired the first four batters he faced (David DeJesus, Wil Myers, Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria) before James Loney doubled. The first run came in the 3rd when Yunel Escobar homered. He left with a 4-3 lead, replaced by Jason Frasor. His first big league at-bat came as a pinch-hitter, as he batted for Nick Tepesch in the 3rd inning of an interleague game against the Washington Nationals on May 31st, and grounded to second. He ended up pitching 29 times for Texas, with 24 starts, and went 5-12, 4.55, while logging 140 1/3 innings.

In 2015, he pitched 24 times for Texas, with 21 starts. He was in the starting rotation until the middle of August, then missed the rest of the month and only pitched 4 innings in relief in September. He went 7-7, 3.96 on the year, pitching 125 innings. He led the American League in hit batsmen with 13, and his K/W ratio was mediocre, at 77/46, although it was an improvement on his rookie mark of 77/55. The Rangers won an unexpected division title that season, but Martinez did not pitch in the postseason. They repeated as division champs in 2016, but Nick's contribution was minimal: in 12 games, he made 5 starts, winning none and finishing with a record of 2-3, 5.59, with 38 2/3 innings pitched. He was a lot better with the Round Rock Express of the AAA Pacific Coast League, where he went 7-6, 3.91 in 18 games (16 starts). When 2017 rolled around, he was back as a regular member of the major league starting rotation, although it took him until his 6th start, on May 19th, to record his first win of the year, his first as a starter since August of 2015. It was also the team's 10th consecutive win.

After not playing in the majors from 2018 to 2021, he returned in 2022 as a member of the San Diego Padres rotation. He played in Nippon Professional Baseball in the interim. He was with the Nippon Ham Fighters from 2018 to 2020, although he missed almost all of 2019, appearing only twice in the minor league Eastern League due to an injury. In 2021, he went 9-4, 1.60 in 24 games for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Pacific League, attracting the Padres' attention. That year, he also pitched for the U.S. at the 2020 Olympics, which were held in Japan one year later than originally scheduled due to COVID-19; he won a silver medal in the event. In his first season with San Diego, he went 4-4, 3.47 in 47 games, including 10 starts, recording 8 saves and pitching 106 1/3 innings. He appeared in the postseason for the first time, pitching in a total of 7 games over three series with a record of 0-1. That loss came in Game 2 of the Wild Card Series against the New York Mets on October 8th, when he gave up 1 runs in 2 2/3 innings, but the run proved to be the winning run in a 7-3 loss. It turned out to be the only run he would allow over 11 1/3 innings as he was one of his team's most effective pitchers.

Before the 2023 season, he was selected to play for Team USA in the 2023 World Baseball Classic. He originally declined the offer because he was looked upon as a reliever, while he wanted to focus on being a starting pitcher in spring training, but the withdrawal of pitchers Nestor Cortes and Clayton Kershaw, both starting pitchers, opened up an opportunity for him to join the team in his preferred role.


Further Reading[edit]

  • AJ Cassavell: "Martinez rejoins Team USA as starter: 'It's incredibly special'",, February 20, 2023. [1]

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