Coming into this season, MLB scouts wanted to know if Jeremy Martinez could show the power potential, holding him back from being an elite catching prospect. Martinez had already been one of USC's most productive hitter and was known for his catch and throw ability behind the plate, but hadn't shown the ability to consistently hit the ball out of the ball park.
During the offseason, Martinez worked on creating more loft and getting better backspin on the ball. The work has paid off. After hitting one home run in each of his first two seasons, Martinez now has five long balls after a two-homer week that helped him win his first Pac-12 Player of the Week honor.
Martinez was on fire last week, helping carry the USC Trojans to a much-needed 3-1 week with a win over then-No. 18 Long Beach State and a series win on the road at Washington State. “J-Mart” hit .688 (11-for-16) for the week. Along with his pair of home runs, he notched multiple hits in all four games, including a monster game against the Dirtbags on Tuesday. Martinez was a perfect 4-for-4, with a two-run homer to dead center field to break a 2-2 tie in the fifth inning.
In the same game, he also threw out two runners, including this laser to second base from this knees to nab a would-be base stealer:
For the week, Martinez threw out a solid 50 percent of attempting base stealers (4-of-8), including hosing Washington State’s top base thief, Trek Stemp, for the first and second times this season.
The Cougars also got a full display of Martinez’s ability to wield the aluminum stick. He was 7-for-12 in the series with two runs scored and two RBIs. His home run on Saturday helped Kyle Davis and the Trojans win 6-2 to take the series:
Martinez takes over as the team’s top hitter in terms of batting average, now hitting .368. He had three runs and five RBIs — pushing his season total to 29 — second best on the Trojans. With his two homers, Martinez becomes the fifth USC hitter with at least five home runs.
He is the guy in the lineup opposing pitchers dread the most. He’s disciplined at the plate and hardly ever strikes out. He has averaged a Pac-12 best 20.6 at-bats between strikeouts and he isn’t afraid of taking a free base. Martinez also leads the conference with 13 hit by pitches.
This was USC's third Pac-12 honor in five weeks. Timmy Robinson won the award on March 29 and A.J. Ramirez was named player of the week on April 12. It is the first time since 1996 the Trojans have won three conference player of the week. The Trojans host UC Irvine Tuesday at Dedeaux Field before welcoming Arizona for a crucial Pac-12 tilt this weekend.
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