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Daily News - Martinez article

Posted Monday, May 18, 2009 by nydailynews.com

Fine-tuning from father helps Stepinac's Steven Martinez flourish

Friday, May 15th 2009, 1:37 PM

It's a cold, cloudless January night in the Bronx, but inside the Raw Talent Baseball Academy, it sounds as if a thunderstorm is approaching.

The booming sound comes from Steven Martinez's bat. The Stepinac junior is blasting pitch after pitch from his father into the batting nets, displaying a swing that seems too smooth for a 16-year-old.

Martinez, a 5-10 shortstop who's hitting .415 for Crusaders, has a natural feel for the game.

"He's got great baseball instincts and you can't teach that," Stepinac coach Pat Duffy says.

Martinez, however, says he learned those instincts from his father, Jose, a former professional scout who helped sign 12 players to pro contracts in eight years with the Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres.

"With baseball, you first get the knowledge of the game, and then the body growns into it as a player," Jose Martinez said. "I just tried to give Steven the knowledge."

Jose Martinez passes his knowledge to Steven and other young players nearly every night at his baseball academy on Bruckner Avenue. Father and son both say that the goal is to play in college.

"I tell him like I tell other players," Martinez said. "Treat high school as college and college as your minor leagues. Anything that happens after that is a blessing."

Steven has long displayed a knack for being selective at the plate, something his father impressed upon him as a young player.

The No. 3 hitter came up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning against Iona Prep last week and drilled a 1-0 fastball from Gaels righthander Stephen Roche, one of the top pitchers in the division, over the left fielder's head for a bases-clearing double, displaying the patience that his father preaches.

St. John's thinks highly of Martinez, and invited him to make an unofficial campus visit last December. Stepinac coaches have no doubt that Martinez can succeed in the Big East. One area American League scout also sees pro potential in Martinez, who will turn 17 in August.

"He's got the hitting ability - that's the name of the game," the scout said. "He's got the fielding and the throwing, those are three major league tools right there.

"He needs to improve his speed and his raw power, but you're talking about a high school kid, 16 years old. That will come with time."

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/high_school/2009/05/15/2009-05-15_finetuning_from_father_helps_stepinacs_steven_martinez_flourish.html#ixzz0Fskt6pNL&B

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