Nick Martini might figure out when an opposing team is going to bunt or whether a pitcher is going to throw him a fastball or a breaking ball.
But the Nashville Sounds first baseman initially did not pick up on any signs Tuesday when manager Fran Riordan pulled him in the middle of their Pacific Coast League game against Reno.
Martini had not done anything wrong – he was about to receive the biggest news of his life. He was about to become a Major League Baseball player with the Oakland A’s.
“I didn’t know what was going on,” said Martini, a 2008 Prairie Ridge graduate. “Then he told me I was going to Texas. I was just kind of shocked, kind of at a loss for words. I really didn’t know what to say. I wasn’t really thinking about it at the time. I was really just shocked.”
Martini joined the A’s in Texas and did not start in Wednesday’s loss, but he did get two at-bats, going 0 for 2, and played right field. His girlfriend, Kaylin Dietrich, and his family – father Scott, mother Kris, brother Alex and sisters Maddy and Hannah – were in the stands.
“It was awesome they were able to come,” Martini said. “I couldn’t ask for anything better than that.”
Martini starred at Prairie Ridge and helped the Wolves to the 2008 Class 4A state championship as their center fielder and closer. He played three seasons at Kansas State and was taken by St. Louis in the seventh round of the 2011 draft.
Martini had been close to the majors, playing 86 games in 2016 and 98 games in 2017 with the Memphis Redbirds, the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate. He tried to go about his work and not worry about when the call to the big leagues might come.
“I knew I put myself in a new position, but the Cardinals are deep,” said Martini, who will be 28 on June 27. “You never really know anywhere, but I never really knew what was going to happen.”
Martini was hitting .299 with three homers, 23 RBIs and five stolen bases for Nashville. He was promoted when Matt Joyce went on the 10-day disabled list.
Immediately, the Martini family made plans and joined Nick in Arlington, Texas, for his big-league debut. They were able to walk on the field and take pictures before the game with Martini. The A’s flew back to Oakland on Wednesday night.
Martini is familiar with two of his new teammates: former Cardinals outfielder Steven Piscotty from their minor league days and outfielder Jake Smolinski, a Boylan graduate and former travel ball teammate with the McHenry County Hurricanes.
“Walking in there it was kind of like, ‘Wow. It’s actually real,’ ” Martini said. “We didn’t take [batting practice] yesterday, so I had a lot of time to sit and chat with people and see what goes on. It definitely was a crazy experience for me.”
Although he did not get a hit in his first major league game, Martini was encouraged.
“It was awesome, especially with my family there,” he said. “It was good to get into that game. I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t super nervous. I felt like I had two pretty good at-bats. It was good, something to build on for sure.”