By Five Boro Sports
The New York Nine’s showcase team is loaded with talent, from George Washington shortstop Mike Antonio to Walton ace Jose Cruz to the several members of Mamaroneck (N.Y.), the state’s reigning top-ranked baseball team.
Yet when asked to name his best player, Stan Latimer didn’t hesitate.
“He’s my go-to guy in every situation, whether it’s fielding or on the mound or at bat,” he said. “He’s one of the few guys I’ve ever had that I can confidently say he’s a five-tool guy. Forgetting about his talent, which he has a ton of, his attitude and game presence is so far above most players. His focus, intensity, enthusiasm, he’s got all those things in spades.”
Latimer isn’t the only one high on Martinez, GW’s second baseman/closer/second hitter. Major League scouts like him, too. After a tryout in Trenton, N.J., Martinez was selected by a group of them to be included in the upcoming Area Code Games, joining Antonio as the only players from the five boroughs on the Northeast team.
The showcase, to be held at Blair Field in Long Beach, Calif., is scheduled for Aug. 5-10. The Area Code Games are a collection of the top 200 prospects, as judged by scouts, in the nation.
“He’s a versatile guy,” said one scout who was in attendance at the tryout. “He opened some eyes along the way.”
New York Nine president Ian Millman, who has known Martinez for several years, said one of his greatest qualities, beyond his baseball exploits, is his even-keel nature. Very little affects him. This selection was different. When Millman broke the news, he could tell there was an excitement in Martinez’s voice, like a kid being informed he was off to Disney Land.
“I didn’t think they were gonna choose me,” said Martinez, a Bronx resident who hit .519 this season for GW with 24 stolen bases, eight extra-base hits, 30 runs scored and 16 RBIs while picking up two saves to go with a 1.17 ERA.
Martinez figured his size – or lack thereof at 5-foot-8 – would hinder his chances. It has pushed him to work harder all his life because, he said, he would often not get a second look as a result.
“I have to make sure I perform every chance I get,” he said.
Like Antonio, his George Washington teammate, Martinez never stops working. When he isn’t on a baseball diamond, he stays in tip-top shape by swimming in the ocean or taking long-distance jogs.
“He wakes up in the morning and starts working on baseball until he goes to sleep at night,” Latimer said. “He puts in 10 times the amount of work that everybody else does.”
“Every day,” Martinez added, “is a chance to make yourself better. In this game, you can’t take a day off. If you do, the next man is going to take your job.”
Martinez has drawn interest from a handful of Big East schools, Millman said, and other local Division I programs. But he has never experienced anything quite like this.
Not only will there be Major League scouts on hand, including scouting directors and national crosscheckers, for the event, assessing each player, but hundreds of Division I college coaches from around the country as well. The Area Code Games are an opportunity for Martinez to establish himself further, and set in motion his future.
“I’m just going to go over there and give it my all,” Martinez said. “My all has gotten me to this point.”