Martinez Makes the Call
Just before the California football team kicked off against Ohio State last week, the Golden Bears baseball program snagged the fifth commit of the 2014 cycle, hauling in coveted righty Erik Martinez out of West Covina (Calif.) South Hills.
The 6-foot, 185-pound drop-and-drive hurler graded out at a 9.0 (out of 10) at this summer's Perfect Game Showcase in Minneapolis, Minn., and features an 88-91 fastball with a wipe-out slider.
Pitching coach Mike Neu saw Martinez at a showcase at Long Beach State, run by former Major Leaguer, Dave Coggin, and after that, the two began to speak about coming to Berkeley. "This summer, I went to the Minnesota showcase for the Perfect Game National Showcase. I did that one, and then, I also did a showcase, and then one with Dave Coggin at Cal State Long Beach, where coach Neu saw me," Martinez says. "That's where a lot of the coaches saw me, was during Area Codes. After the Area Code showcase, I did the TFA Showcase with Dave Coggin, and that's where I got most of my interest."
Martinez has a medium athletic build with a lot of room to grow and develop. He throws out of a ¾ arm slot, and has some mechanical issues to iron out, but has good cutting action on his fastball. His slider is a big, sweeping breaker with fair spin, and he has a developing change up, as well.
After visiting Cal in August, it only took two weeks before Martinez decided that he wanted to be a part of what Neu and head coach David Esquer are building in Berkeley.
"After talking to the coaches, there was an automatic bond. I got along with them great, and when they took me around the campus, I saw the stadium, the facilities, the football field was amazing, and then I thought about the academics, and you can't beat it," Martinez says. "You're not only playing in the Pac-12, but you're also going to the No. 1 public school in America. That's hard to beat."
It was only after his strong summer did schools come calling, and they came in droves. Rice, Stanford, San Diego State, Santa Clara, UCLA and others expressed interest, with the Owls, Aztecs, Broncos, UC Riverside and the Bears extending scholarship offers.
"Looking through all my options, I waited to hear back from a couple schools, and after hearing back from all of those schools, I thought that Cal-Berkeley was the best fit for me, and that's where I enjoyed my time the most, more at Cal-Berkeley than at any other school," Martinez says.
One of the big reasons for Martinez to make the call was his bond with Neu, the former Oakland Athletics reliever.
"He was a Major League ballplayer, and that's awesome," Martinez says. "He also played in college, so the experience is there, and it's amazing. I like him, personally, and he's one of the guys I'll be spending most of my time with up there. He'll be almost like a father figure, and I'll be spending a whole bunch of time with him, along with coach Esquer and coach [Tony] Arnerich, but being a professional pitcher, he understands the game extremely well, and the mental part of the game will be super strong."
Serendipitously, Martinez recently found out that one of the other pitchers in his workout program was also a Cal commit – recent Bear pledge Jeff Bain, another righty hurler.
"He goes to San Marino, and I work out with him at PFA (Performance Fitness for Athletes), with Dave Coggin. I met him a few weeks ago, and he told me that he had committed to Cal-Berkeley, also. It was interesting finding out that he would be my future teammate," says Martinez. "I think it did help a little bit. He was reminding me how awesome of a school it was, and it's a great conference, a great decision, and I liked him, so I figured, if I'm around this kid, I'll be happy. It helped me be even more comfortable with the school."
With a sparkling 3.8 GPA – unweighted – it's clear that Martinez likes school. What he doesn't like, though, are opposing hitters.
"My style: I really don't like batters," he says, without a hint of humor. "On the mound, I just don't like batters. I don't want them to get on base."
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