Martinez realizes life-long dream, joins Astros

Martinez: “I was with my girlfriend Eva in the car and I broke down. It was all the dreams I’ve ever had coming true. It was the happiest moment of my life,” Martinez said. “She was just as happy as I was. She has been there for the entire ride and it was just as emotional for her as it was for me.”

Kevin Castaneda/ Contributing Writer

Mike Martinez finally got his happy meal.

After the first two days of the Major League Baseball First-Year draft passed and Martinez’s name had still not been called, frustration overcame him.
But on June 6, on his way to McDonald’s with his girlfriend, Eva Hiers, the FIU slugger received the call of a lifetime to become a member of the Houston Astros as the first pick of the 36th round.

Martinez: “I was with my girlfriend Eva in the car and I broke down. It was all the dreams I’ve ever had coming true. It was the happiest moment of my life.”

Martinez and Hiers were not the only ones to feel the magnitude of the situation.

“My siblings are very supportive so they were also very happy. When they heard my name called they kept saying, ‘You earned the shot, now go make the most of it,’” Martinez said.

Throughout his baseball career, Martinez has shown that he has the tools to make sure he leaves his stamp on the big leagues as evidenced by the trail of accolades he leaves behind at every level.

At Miami Killian Senior High, Martinez was named the team’s most valuable player his senior year, Miami Herald First Team All-Dade selection, and Florida Athletic Coaches Association South Region Player of the Year.

Upon reaching FIU, his success did not stop. He was named the Louisville Slugger Freshmen All-American his first year. He followed his freshman performance by being named to the American Baseball Coaches Association South Central All-Region Second Team and Second Team All-Sun Belt. In his junior year, he led the team with 15 home runs, 60 RBIs and slugged at a .540 clip.

In his final year as a Panther, Martinez ended his career with a bang. He went on to become the all-time hits leader at FIU by compiling a team-high 77 hits in 2012, and led the Sun Belt Conference with a .383 average and .488 on-base percentage.

Martinez joined fellow teammates and close friends, Mason McVay (San Francisco Giants), Rudy Flores (Arizona Diamondbacks) and Jabari Henry (Seattle Mariners) as Panthers that were drafted in 2012.
Pablo Bermudez, one of Martinez’s best friends and the 2011 SBC Player of the Year, was not drafted after posting a stellar 2012 campaign.

“You know, the draft is something I have never understood and I doubt I ever will,” Martinez said. “He may not have gotten picked up in the draft, but any team would be lucky to have a guy like that. Not only is he incredibly talented, he is an amazing person as well.”

Martinez made his professional debut with the Astros’ rookie minor league affiliate, the Greenville Astros. He went 0-for-4 with one strikeout.

“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous,” Martinez said. “I had a terrible game mostly because I was so focused on soaking up the whole thing. It was still surreal to me.”

As of July 11, Martinez is batting .268 with two home runs and 10 RBIs.

Along with the transition of aluminum to wooden bats, Martinez pointed out that the biggest adjustment for him has been playing everyday, as opposed to 3-4 times a week.

Playing every day has not stopped Martinez from keeping in contact with his family who has supported him to capture his dream. He admits he had been lagging behind in the technology curve and bought an iPhone to use Skype with his family.

“I’m not going to lie and say being away from my family is easy, because it’s not. It’s not something you get used to, but I know back home my parents have the Marlins game on mute and are listening to my game,” Martinez said. “Sometimes my dad will say, ‘Hey that one hit sounded good, did you get all of it?’ and it makes me laugh because I know he would kill to watch it.”

Despite the new wear-and-tear the third baseman will encounter with playing everyday, he’s not going to grumble about it.

“I’m getting paid to do something I love. How could I ever complain about that? I just look up to the sky and thank the people above for letting me be healthy enough to play.”

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