Titan on the Farm: Q&A with Mike Martinez

Mike Martinez has seen baseball glory at a very early stage in his baseball career. A college World Series Champion this year with the Cal State Fullerton Titans and an already hot prospect in the Yankee Farm System after jumping two levels in only his first partial season as a pro. He proved early on that he truly was a Titan on the Farm.

PinstripesPlus: Tell us about your College World Series experience this year.

Mike Martinez: The College World Series is an unbelievable experience just to go there and play but to actually come out on top was even more memorable.

PinstripesPlus: Ok, you started at Fullerton as a shortstop but went to the mound. How did that come about? Were you recruited as a pitcher?

Martinez: I was recruited mainly as a pitcher out of high school but I did both infield and pitching in high school. The team had more need for an infielder my freshman year and I was having more success so I focused on shortstop. As time went on, I became a backup infielder and the coaches approached me about pitching again so we decided that was the best route to go instead of being on the bench as a shortstop.

PinstripesPlus: Initially, you were basically the replacement for Chad Cordero at Cal State Fullerton, correct? Did you do a lot of closing as a Titan?

Martinez: I started the season off as the team's closer but it seemed like there were rarely any true save situations. I wouldn't say that I was the replacement of Chad Cordero, but I was the closer at the beginning of the season.

PinstripesPlus: Do you prefer relieving or starting?

Martinez: I was more comfortable as a starter in college. However, the experience of pitching a lot of innings as a starter gave me a better chance to be comfortable and successful as a closer in professional ball.

PinstripesPlus: So do the Yankees plan on keeping you relieving or will you start next year?

Martinez: Good question. I'm not really sure what their future plans are with me but I'm comfortable either way.

PinstripesPlus: Do you think you will be in Charleston (replaced Battle Creek) or Tampa next year?

Martinez: There hasn't been any indication but I was sent to Tampa at the end of this season although I didn't get to play at all because of Hurricane Ivan.

PinstripesPlus: Can you tell us about your repertoire?

Martinez: I throw a 2 and 4 seam fastball, a changeup and a slurve.

PinstripesPlus: What is your best pitch?

Martinez: I think my best pitch is my changeup.

PinstripesPlus: What would you describe your style as, a groundball pitcher, strikeout pitcher etc.?

Martinez: I'm definitely a groundball type pitcher. My fastball is not overpowering enough where I can blow it by guys so I rely more on making the hitters put the ball in play.

PinstripesPlus: What was it like for you to become professional teammates with PJ Pilittere?

Martinez: I never expected it but it was really a good thing to be able to go out and play and especially pitch to someone that you are comfortable with. It made the transition much smoother having PJ there.

PinstripesPlus: What improvements would you like to make for the 2005 season?

Martinez: I want to improve my breaking ball the most.

PinstripesPlus: Was there anything hard to adjust to in the pros?

Martinez: There was nothing really hard to adjust to. Just some minor things like pitching to wood bats and dealing with new teammates.

PinstripesPlus: Which one of those new teammates impressed you the most?

Martinez: There was a lot of talented players that I played with this year. I was impressed with Jesse Hoover's explosive fastball and Eric Abreu's all around stuff. They both dominated.

PinstripesPlus: How would you pitch to Barry Bonds? All pitchers get faced with this question.

Martinez: Probably the way most big league pitchers pitch to him, 4 straight balls out of the strike zone. (laughing) I would try to get him out with my changeup.

PinstripesPlus: Did you pitch a lot of innings in the College World Series this year?

Martinez: I started against South Carolina and threw around 6 innings and then pitched the final 2/3 of the 9th inning against Texas in game 1 of the championship series. I also threw an elimination game against Arizona State University at our regional tournament. I threw a complete game shut out. The best game I pitched in college.

PinstripesPlus: Who did you idolize growing up by the way?

Martinez: I have always idolized the position players more than the pitchers growing up. I like A-Rod. I used to like Chuck Finley as a kid watching him play down the street with the Angels. I grew up watching a lot of their games at the stadium so it was easy to root for them.

PinstripesPlus: what were your thoughts when you were drafted by the Yankees?

Martinez: It was really unbelievable to get drafted by an organization with the history and tradition the Yankees have. It brought on a certain pride no other teams could have brought. It really hit me when I visited the stadium over the summer and walked through monument park. To be a part of the same organization that all of the greats have played for, that is definitely something special.

PinstripesPlus: Has it occurred to you that you could move very quickly through this system because of the lack of quality pitchers in the farm system?

Martinez: I feel that if I continue to get comfortable and continue to improve on the mound then I will get a chance to help the big team win. Getting moved up that fast my first year only makes me want to get there that much more.

PinstripesPlus: Did you have a chance to play with Marcos Vechionacci?

Martinez: Marcos was with the Staten Island team the first few weeks I was there and he was a pretty amazing player. We definitely missed him after he left. I think they felt he could help the GCL team win since they were in the hunt for the playoffs, and our team in Staten Island was struggling and had little chance to make the playoffs. He is a quiet kid that didn't speak a lot. I'm not sure if he speaks a lot of English but he understands what you are trying to tell him. He does his speaking through his glove and his bat.

PinstripesPlus.com would like to thank Mike Martinez for his time and efforts in answering these questions. If you are interested in reading more about the Yankees' farm system, and more interviews with the Yankees' prospects, be sure to sign up for PinstripesPlus.com Premium Access below!

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