Yanks' 3rd-rounder Martinez: 'Best day' of life

Yanks' 3rd-rounder Martinez: 'Best day' of life

NEW YORK -- Nolan Martinez knew that his high school graduation day would involve wearing a cap and gown. The touted right-hander was thrilled that it also allowed him to try some Yankees headwear on for size.

Hours before picking up his diploma at Culver City (Calif.) High School, Martinez answered his buzzing cell phone to learn that he had been taken by the Yankees in the third round of the MLB Draft with the 98th overall selection.

"Oh, my God -- the best day of my life," Martinez said. "I was really thankful and I was really happy that it was the Yankees. It's one of the best teams -- ever -- so I felt really honored to be selected by the Yankees. I'm just thankful for every moment."

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Though he has committed to San Diego State University, Martinez said that he is leaning toward signing with the Yankees and beginning his professional career.

"I want to go play; I want to sign," Martinez said. "That's what I want to do. We're going to talk it over as a family and come to a family decision."

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Martinez was scouted heavily prior to the Draft, coming off a season in which he compiled an 8-2 record with a 0.49 ERA, striking out 81 against 17 walks in 56 2/3 innings.

He turns 18 later this month and dominated California high schoolers on the strength of a fastball that has touched 93 mph, plus a solid average curveball and a developing changeup.

"My fastball has been doing most of the damage this year, because most of the hitters couldn't catch up to it," Martinez said. "I was just kind of plowing through with my fastball, and if they started catching up with it, I'd start throwing the breaking ball. My three-pitch combo has been really working out, so I think that was the biggest part in my stats this year."

 

At 6-foot-2 and 165 pounds, Martinez describes himself as a lanky competitor with a loose and smooth delivery, and said that he tries to pattern his approach after big league hurlers like Greg Maddux, Clayton Kershaw and Trevor Bauer.

"I'm just trying to take bits and pieces off of every one, try them out and see what they do," Martinez said.

Mostly, Martinez prides himself on keeping an even demeanor, which extends beyond the mound. After being informed that he had been selected by the Yankees, Martinez said that he went to the gym for his morning workout, then shot hoops until it was time to dress for the graduation ceremony.

And in that school auditorium, one last time, Martinez was the big story on campus.

"The assistant principal came up to the stage and was like, 'Where is Nolan Martinez?'" he said. "I was like, 'Oh man,' but all the kids started clapping. It was kind of cool."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.