As you may have heard, Arizona DiamondBacks outfielder J.D. Martinez hit four home runs on Monday night, becoming the 18th player in Major League Baseball history to accomplish the feat, rarer than a perfect game. However, what you may not know, Martinez has roots in the Capital Region.
Martinez hails from Miami, Florida and went to college at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale. In the summer of 2008, he came to Saratoga Springs to play for the Saratoga Phillies, joining college teammate and now-Houston Astro Mike Fiers. Martinez played in 25 games for the Philles, hitting .392 while smashing seven home runs and driving in 19, leading the team in all three categories. Additionally, he led the team in slugging percentage at .691.
He was drafted in the 20th round of the 2009 MLB draft by the Houston Astros and was assigned to rookie-level Greenville in Tennessee and was quickly called up to the Tri-City ValleyCats after hitting .403 in rookie ball. He played out the remainder of the 2009 campaign in Troy, hitting .326 and hitting seven home runs and had 33 RBI’s over the course of 53 games.
He was sent to full-season Single A at the beginning of the 2010 season and reached the major leagues in 2011, never making a trip back to Troy. He is one of 51 former ValleyCats to have reached the major leagues and one of five former Saratoga Phillies to have reached the majors.
It’s been nearly 10 years since Martinez last played in the 518, but those roots are just part of the lore that is sports and baseball in the Capital Region.