Dual threat players such as sophomore Daniel Martinez (Riverside, CA) rarely grace the diamond these days. The new generational breed typically specializes in one area of their sport – hitting or pitching, offense or defense, and so on. Rarely do you see an athlete try his hand at both, let alone succeed in both areas. But for Martinez, it was as simple as riding an electric bike with training wheels.
According to an interview in early March, Martinez was not only a rare utility player, but the first two-way guy that Riverside has seen for a long time.
"Rudy [Arguelles] told me that I am one of the first two-way guys to play at RCC," he said through a humble smile.
The Division I bounce back from UC Riverside was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 21st round (623 overall) on June 6th in the 2018 MLB First-Year Player Draft after experiencing a strong inaugural campaign for Riverside. He is the 82nd Tiger to be drafted in RCC history and the third Riverside player to be drafted by the Athletics. Additionally, he is the 14th player drafted since 2010.
"I am feeling really good," said Martinez when asked about being the newest property of the Athletics. "Being drafted by a Major League team is really exciting. It's a dream come true."
Martinez is a special player – a five tool athlete that could play the field, hold down a pitching staff, and produce offensively in the middle of the order. He was the Tigers ace on the bump after compiling an overall record of 7-4 with a lowly 2.51 ERA and 77 punch outs in 89.2 innings pitched. His numbers paced Riverside's staff.
What set him apart from the rest of the conference was his ability with the stick. In 155 at-bats as the three hitter, he hit .297 with 43 hits and 23 RBI. He launched three homeruns and recorded 12 doubles. His homerun total paced the squad.
His athletic ability made him a top prospect for the Athletics who picked him up as a pitcher.
"Before the season started I knew that getting drafted was a possibility. I started getting contacted by pro scouts in the fall so I knew that if I had a good year my chances of being drafted would be fair."
At UC Riverside, Martinez appeared in five games on the mound and went 1-1 with 12 strikeouts and one save. He also started three games. Offensively, he earned 18 at-bats and barreled eight hits and recorded seven RBI.
He has a strong head on his shoulders that understands the importance of academics as well. That was one reason, amongst many, that he decided to take his talents to RCC. Therefore, his transition to Riverside CC was just as easy as starting on the mound and hitting third - simultaneously.
"The transition from UCR to RCC was smooth. There was a good team chemistry as soon as I got there so it made my time at RCC much more enjoyable."
Martinez was named to the Orange Empire Conference (OEC) All-Conference list and was named the California Community College Baseball Coaches Association (CCCBCA) SoCal Player/Pitcher of the Week in the opening month of play. Additionally, he was named RCC Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) February Male Athlete of the Month.