For a pitcher to achieve sustained success on the mound, he must possess the physical attributes necessary to make it through a season. Often ignored are a player’s mental acumen and the way intelligence can have a domineering effect against opposing hitters. Taken in the 30th round by the Yankees in the 2015 draft, pitcher Chad Martin leans on his engineering background to outwit hitters and produce solid results.
The youngest of three brothers in Mongomery County, Maryland, Martin followed in the footsteps of his father, who serves as a civil engineer in the U.S. Naval Academy. In addition to his passion for engineering, Martin played baseball from the time he was six years old and felt a strong desire to pursue both engineering and baseball at the University of Delaware.
“I think going into college, I wanted to pick the best engineering school that I could play baseball at which is why I picked the University of Delaware,” Martin said. “That was the only school that said I could walk on with the team even though they did not offer a scholarship. I went there and felt like I’d have a chance to play at the next level.”
On the mound, Martin did not pitch until his sophomore season but fared better than his statistics indicated. Martin went 5-5 with a 5.35 ERA in 15 appearances, but pitched two complete games and made the Colonial Athletic Association’s All-Rookie team. As a junior in 2015, Martin led Delaware to their fourth consecutive CAA Tournament appearance and ranked second on the club with 62 strikeouts.
“It was huge. I redshirted during my freshman year just purely for development reasons, and I came in my next year as a bullpen guy and after a couple of weeks I started on the weekends and won some ballgames and was able to put ourselves in a position to play in the CAA Tournament. Winning is the most important thing,” Martin said.
Despite two years of collegiate eligibility remaining, Martin impressed the Yankees to the point where they drafted him as the eighth player in team history out of Delaware and the 82nd player in school history. Though Delaware’s baseball program does not garner the attention of some of the higher profile schools in the country, they continually produce talent and prepare players for their future endeavors.
“If you come to the alumni weekend, you find a lot of guys who played in Triple-A or at some level in professional baseball. We have a guy who was with the Pirates. As for getting drafted, I got a call from Stewart Smothers with the Yankees telling me that they may pick me, and I was in the Cape Cod League at the time hoping for any opportunity.”
Martin signed with the Yankees shortly after the draft and pitched 13 games in the Gulf Coast League, striking out 26 batters in 39 innings with a 2.61 ERA. Before season’s end, Martin earned a short promotion to the Tampa Yankees in the Florida State League and had to chance to play for his future Staten Island manager Dave Bialas and shared a clubhouse with prospects Chance Adams and Jonathan Holder.
“It is almost like walking into big league spring training in Tampa because you got all of these top prospects walking around here,” Martin said. “I thought it was ironic that when I went to Staten Island that Dave Bialas was the manager because he was super friendly to me there and had a good experience playing for him.”
After his brief stay in Tampa, Martin opened the 2016 season with the Pulaski Yankees in the Appalachian League and dominated the competition he faced. In 35.1 innings of work, Martin held opposing hitters to a 1.05 WHIP in seven starts and was the Appalachian League Player of the Week for his start on July 22 against the Kingsport Mets where he pitched six scoreless innings in an 8-0 victory.
“The coaching staff in Pulaski is great. There are a lot of young guys, and they got to be able to give a lot of motivation to a lot of guys. Butch Henry has worked hard with me, and I can’t ask him for anymore. He is a great guy, and he took me under his wing in extended spring training, and it’s almost like having a personal pitching coach.”
Martin’s success at Pulaski led to a promotion to the Staten Island Yankees at the end of July and continued to show progress, allowing just earned runs in his first three starts. On August 8 in a home start against the Lowell Spinners, Martin struck out a career-high nine batters in five innings and had a 2-0 record with 1.66 ERA since his promotion.
“He has done a heck of a job for us this season,” Staten Island Yankees manager Dave Bialas said. “Earlier this month he pitched against a very good team in State College and shut them out. In the game against Lowell, he was able to work out jams even though he didn’t have his command and was able to make pitches when he needed to.”
Thanks to his engineering background, Martin possesses a strong attention to detail and applies those attributes to the mental side of the game while developing a feel for pitching and understanding the tendencies of his opponents.
“You don’t want to overanalyze pitching too because you want to have a feel for it, but I take a lot of notes on how I felt after a certain outing and what was happening on each pitch,” Martin said. ”I try to come out of each start as a student of the game.”