OAKLAND -- It's been a long wait for Nick Martini. The 28-year-old outfielder spent his first seven seasons in the minor leagues before finally getting his shot in the majors this year with the A's.
“It was definitely tough,” Martini admitted. “Especially when you see other people pass you. But those are things you can't really control, so I just had to keep taking it day by day.”
Martini was drafted in the seventh round by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011. He put together some productive seasons in the minors, including a .303/.394/.436 slash line last year in Triple-A, but he never got that coveted call-up.
Martini elected for free agency after the 2017 season and signed with Oakland in November, hoping to prove himself worthy of a big-league opportunity.
“I knew this was an organization that gave people chances,” he said. “They seemed like they were excited about having me, so I was excited to be here.”
That chance came in June, when the A's called Martini up from Triple-A Nashville. All he has done since then is slash .302/.416/.444, taking over the leadoff spot against right-handed pitchers.
“He's been fantastic,” said A's manager Bob Melvin. “He's a tough kid. He's been in the minor leagues for awhile, and just keeps grinding away.”
“I'm having a lot of fun,” Martini smiled. “I played in the minor leagues for seven years. That's a long time. I had some good years in the minor leagues, just never got a chance. I'm thankful for this opportunity.”
Martini's .416 on-base percentage ranked third in the American League, among hitters with at least 60 at-bats entering Friday. But getting on base is nothing new for the speedy left-hander. At Kansas State University, Martini reached base safely in an NCAA Division I record 93 consecutive games. This season in Triple-A, he reached base safely in 65 straight games, a Pacific Coast League record.
“I take a lot of pride in (getting on base),” Martini said. “I know I'm not going to be a guy who hits 30 homers, so I've got to see some pitches and try to get on base as much as I can.”
“He has a very advanced approach,” Melvin assessed. “He's not afraid to get behind in the count or take a couple of pitches. You like that from a guy who's leading off. He can get two-strike hits, has a short stroke, and uses the whole field.”
Martini credits his teammates for helping make his transition to the big leagues a smooth one.
“I think since day one, they've welcomed me with open arms. It's been an exciting run so far.”