Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz
Big Chris Martin is the type of player every American Association team should be pulling for as he bids for a spot on the Texas Rangers’ pitching staff since it is possible the 6-foot-8 native Texan would not even be playing baseball without a Grand Prairie tryout camp back in 2010.
As a curious sidebar to this story, Martin gives some of the credit for the Rangers giving him a two-year, $4 million contract and a spot on their 40-man winter roster to the excitement in baseball about the Los Angeles Angels’ heralded two-way rookie, Shohei Ohtani.
“There were a lot of scouts coming to watch him, and I think they stumbled upon me doing well over there (Japan),” Martin mused to The Associated Press early in spring training at Surprise, Ariz. “He’s going to be really fun to watch,” the hurler predicted of his former Japanese teammate. I’m excited to see what he can do over here.”
The Grand Prairie tryout provided Martin, who had been drafted twice, his first opportunity to pitch in three years because he had torn his right labrum while in junior college. “I decided my arm was feeling better and I’d take another shot at it,” he told AP.
Thirteen appearances with the AirHogs (4-0, 1.96) were enough to get an opportunity in the Boston farm system, and three years later (2014) Martin first pitched in the majors for Colorado, followed by some time in the New York Yankees bullpen the next season. He was far from a standout, however (0-2, 6.19 ERA in 40 relief appearances), so he went to Japan the last two seasons and posted earned run averages just over one run per game for 92 appearances.
“He went over to Japan and really kind of earned the next part of his pitching career”, Rangers manager Jeff Bannister told The Associated Press. “He seems to be a very dedicated, disciplined guy.”
Martin seems projected to likely be in the Texas bullpen although he has only worked in one exhibition game so far in the young spring training, hurling a scoreless inning.
Three More Experience the Majors
The 18 former American Association players in major league camps fulltime have been joined already by at least three others who have been brought in from minor league facilities for at least one day. That trio is made up entirely of pitchers, with David Holman (Kansas City) and Anthony Phillips (St. Paul) with Colorado and Casey Crosby (Lincoln) with Minnesota. Crosby has made one brief appearance while the other two have not yet gotten into a game.
Previously the chief spokesman for Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth, Bob Wirz has been writing extensively about Independent Baseball since 2003. He is a frequent contributor to this site, has a blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, and a book about his life, “The Passion of Baseball”, is available at Amazon.com or WirzandAssociates.com.