Martinez was born in a rural area of the Dominican Republic, and his mother passed away when he was young. So Martinez went to live with his uncle and took the last name Matias, which caused some confusion when he received attention from MLB scouts.
The Red Sox signed Martinez in 2009, but after a routine background check, his contract was voided because of discrepancies stemming from his name and date of birth. Eventually it was determined that inadequate record keeping contributed to the mixup, and Martinez was cleared of all wrongdoing. Several other Major League players from the Dominican Republic had used false names or birthdays when signing, but Martinez had no intent to deceive.
The Cardinals then signed Martinez in 2010 for $1.5 million. He was a raw talent with plenty of room to grow, and the now 23-year-old did has filled out and boasts a fastball in the mid-to-high 90s.
Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.