NASHVILLE — Nashville Sounds OF/1B Nick Martini is not a slugger, but an on-base machine. Going into Thursday night, he had a streak of getting on base in 46 consecutive games, the longest in all of the minor leagues this season.
With three hits on Wednesday night, the left-handed hitter’s batting average with the Sounds rose to .308 with an on-base percentage of a whopping .420.
The 27-year-old is enjoying this success after seven seasons in the St. Louis Cardinals system, which came to an end in November.
“I was a free agent,” he said. “I could have gone back, but I had been there a while and [I] just felt like the time was right to move on. I had a decent amount of interest [from other teams]; I just had to weigh my options and what I felt was best and go from there.”
The Oakland A’s just seemed right, Martini said.
“It felt like a good fit,” he said. “The people higher up [made me] feel like I was wanted and it just felt like a good fit from the beginning.”
Now, Martini is blossoming – the only other time he has had a higher battting average or on-base percentage was in a mere 22-game stint in Triple-A Memphis in 2015.
His success this year earned him his first call-up to the major leagues on June 6.
As one would imagine, it was a special moment for someone who had toiled in the minor leagues for years.
“I got pulled from a game and told in the fourth inning,” he said. “I was kind of at a loss for words. I didn’t know what to say because obviously I’d been in the minor leagues for seven years. I was super-excited and shocked at the same time. It was crazy for sure.
“I called my parents and told my parents and my family and my girlfriend. My parents were ecstatic. It was exciting.”
He was immediately put into action with the big club in the outfield.
“I got in right away – obviously I was nervous at first – I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t,” he said. “I feel like I had some pretty good at bats; nothing really got through.”
He went 0-9 in his at-bats with Oakland, but he never struck out. He was sent back down after three games.
“It was a good experience and I just hope I can get another chance at some point,” Martini said.
So, how does he plan on getting back?
“Just being consistent,” Martini said. “I think the biggest thing about being there is consistency in the all-around game.
That all-around game includes defense, and Martini – a career outfielder at all three outfield positions – has been playing a lot of first base this year for Nashville.
“I don’t mind it – it’s something new for sure,” he said. “I think if I get good at it, it just adds a little more value for me that I can play another position out there.”
Martini said first base is a lot more challenging position than one would expect, especially due to the footwork involved.
“There’s a lot more to it than people would think – it’s not just going over there and catching the ball,” he said. “The infielders … [they’re] throwing over there differently every time. It’s a little difficult, and I’m still getting used to it, but I think it’s been going well so far.”
He is also working on some adjustments at the plate.
“Maybe just jumping on some certain pitches early,” he said. “Sometimes I do get a little too patient. So, jumping some pitches and taking a few more chances.”
With his increased versatility in the field and his work to improve what is an already impressive on-base percentage, Martini is a welcome and valuable asset to the organization.
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