Oceanside High School’s Kyle Martin spent his high school career dreaming of playing in the big leagues. Shortly upon graduation, Martin started his professional baseball career in 2019 after being drafted in the 15th round of the MLB Draft by the Baltimore Orioles.
After inking a deal with the Orioles, the right-handed relief pitcher registered a 4.12 ERA, 1.576 WHIP, 24 strikeouts and one save over 13 appearances (19 2/3 innings pitched) for the Aberdeen IronBirds of the New York-Pennsylvania League.
Martin spoke to Anton Media Group about his time with Oceanside High School and the start of his career with the Orioles, his first spring training experience amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the future of minor league baseball.
Q. How special was it for you to get drafted by the Orioles in 2019?
A: It was the culmination of all the hard work that I had put in prior to that. I think the best thing about it was seeing how happy my parents were.
Q. How did your time at Oceanside help prepare you for the professional level?
A: I loved it there. Oceanside was awesome to play for. Mike Postilio, who was my coach in high school, was honestly the best one I’ve had to this day. I loved playing for him and I was with my best friends. The rivalries were great in high school and was a time that I had a lot of fun playing baseball.
Q. What was your professional debut in the New York Penn League like this year?
A: I was a little bit nervous, but when you’re on the mound, that kind of goes away. You always get that feeling in your stomach before you go out, but I tried to treat it like any other outing. It was against the Brooklyn Cyclones, which was pretty cool, because I grew up a die-hard Mets fan. Noah Syndergaard was making a rehab start that day, which was very cool to see. My parents and two of my buddies from college were there since they were all near the stadium, which was awesome.
Q. What are some things you’re happy about with your first season in professional baseball and what are some things you’d like to improve on?
A: I got off to a really good start with seven scoreless outings. I felt great, but I started to overthink things and tried to be too perfect. I lost command of some of my pitches halfway through the year and, in my last outing, I got hit a little bit and that was a rough way to end the season mentally. Other than that, though, I had two or three outings where I didn’t have my best command and best stuff and I let it get into my head a little bit. I just have to focus on being simple and pitching how I pitch, not trying to be too perfect.
Q. What was your first spring training like?
A: I got there on March 2 or March 3 and was there until about March 14, so I was there about a week-and-a-half. We did the beginning of spring training routine and I got a live batting practice in and then, they told us to go home. It was weird because we went home from a regular day of practice. When we got back to the hotel, they started announcing that the NBA and NHL got canceled. The team emailed us that night to tell us to go home and then we woke up at 7 a.m. to another email saying we were staying. And then an hour after that, they sent us another email telling us we actually are going home. It was a really confusing time and I don’t think anyone really knew what was going on, but the Orioles decided to send us home. Originally, they told us that we’d be going home for a month and that we should stay in shape, but it has obviously been a lot longer than that.
Q. What have you been doing to try and stay in game shape during all of this?
A: I actually stayed in Florida. My mom has three siblings that live an hour south of our spring training facility. My girlfriend and I actually stayed at my aunt’s house in Maples, FL. I have a buddy from Fordham University that lives in Maples and he’s a catcher. I had someone to throw to. I’ve also lifted every day. I have nothing else to do so I decided to work out all the time and throw every day. I’ve kept myself in really good shape.
Q. What was your initial reaction to hearing about the league’s decision to cut the MLB Draft to five rounds?
A: It stinks for guys that were going to be drafted in later rounds. I wouldn’t have gotten drafted since I was a 15th round pick. It’s unfortunate, but we can’t really do anything about it so we just have to keep playing.
Q. MLB’s proposal to return to play has not talked about what would happen to minor leaguers. How are you dealing with that uncertainty?
A: We haven’t heard anything conclusive at all. I’ve been hearing that the minor league season is canceled, so if I had to guess, I’d say that we’ll probably go down to Florida sometime in the fall. Anything can happen, but my mentality right now is to keep getting ready, improve and be ready for whenever we get the call.