By Bob Wirz
It is only a bad joke to say that every American Association player should be looking up to Chris Martin these days even if the Atlanta Braves reliever does measure out at a basketball-worthy 6-foot-8.
The real reason to use Martin as an example to today’s players comes about because the right-handed hurler once was in the shoes of most every young player breaking into professional baseball with the dream of one day making it to the major leagues.
Martin’s journey started nearly a decade ago (2010) when he was a 24-year-old professional rookie at Grand Prairie, winning all four of his decisions and posting a 1.96 earned run average for 13 appearances, four of them as a starting pitcher.
Fast forward to today, and free agent Christopher R. Martin, now 33, has signed to return to the Braves and earn $7 million each of the next two seasons. Not bad for this once gangly young man out of high school in Arlington, TX and McLennan Community College in Waco, TX.
Martin was finishing up another two-year contract worth $4 total with Texas when the Rangers sent him to Atlanta in a trade-deadline deal last July, and he helped the Braves win the National League East by striking out 22 hitters and allowing only one walk (1-1, 4.08) in 20 outings. His season ended abruptly in Game 1 of the Division Series before he threw a pitch because of an oblique strain suffered as he warmed up.
He also has pitched in the majors for Colorado and the New York Yankees and spent two summers with the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan. He has struck out one batter per inning in his major league career that spans 144 appearances (2-10, five saves, 4.51) and last season between the Rangers and Braves became one of only six pitchers since 1900 to work at least 50 innings and have a 13-to-one strikeouts to walk ratio. He joins Kenley Jansen (2017), Clayton Kershaw (’16), Andrew Miller (’16), Evan Scribner (’15) and Dennis Eckersley (’89 and ’90).
Tigers Bring Adleman Back
Tim Adleman has used Independent Baseball as a springboard to his career more than once, and while his payday has not measured up to that of Chris Martin he did make more than $1 million in Korea two years ago.
Now 32, the right-hander was not on the free agent list very long this fall before Detroit signed him to a minor league contract to return to the Tigers’ system for a second consecutive season. This American Association grad (Lincoln and El Paso, 2012) spent most of last season with Detroit’s top farm club in Toledo. Overall, he won 11 of 15 decisions last summer with a 3.23 ERA almost exclusively in a starting role. He has a major league career record of 9-15, 4.97, so it is not out of the question he could help the parent Tigers at some point in 2020.
Jon Jones All-World; Olympics Next
While the United States is still trying to qualify for next year’s Olympic Games, onetime Gary SouthShore outfielder Jon Jones and three other former American Association players helped Mexico gain its first-ever Olympic berth.
Jones (Gary, 2015) and fellow outfielder Noah Perio (Sioux City ’15-’16 plus St. Paul and Kansas City in ’18) both went 1-for-4 with a run scored as Mexico outlasted the USA, 3-2 in 10 innings in the bronze medal and Olympic-qualifying game of the Premier 12 tournament in Tokyo. Jones, a star throughout the event, was one of 11 players named to the all-World team.
The roster could change before the Olympics next summer, but Jones, Perio and pitchers Adam Quintana (Gary, ’18) and Brennan Bernardino (Winnipeg, ’18) were part of Mexico’s Premier 12 team.
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 at www.WirzandAssociates.com.