QUINCY — Riley Martin tried to treat Monday like any other day.
He played catch at a baseball field in his hometown of Salem, Ill., then worked out at a local gym. He went to his father’s house where hamburgers were served for lunch, but he didn’t feel like eating much.
That happens when you’re nervously waiting for your name to be called in the Major League Baseball Draft.
“I just took it like a normal day. I didn’t want to think about it,” he said. “Then once the rounds started moving through, I couldn’t really help but sit there and just wait.”
Martin, a left-handed pitcher who recently completed his fifth year of playing for the Quincy University baseball team, didn’t have to wait long. He was selected Monday in the sixth round of the Major League Baseball amateur draft.
No player in Quincy University history was selected higher than Martin, the 184th overall pick this year. Martin is the first QU player to be drafted by the Cubs since Robert Ott, a right-handed pitcher, was selected in the 13th round of the 1972 draft.
Martin said he had been contacted by “probably 10 or 12 teams” in the days leading up the the draft.
“I didn’t really know where I was going to go or what round or anything like that,” he said. “The Cubs guy who I talked to sent me a text just a little bit before the sixth round and asked if I would sign if they drafted me. He said he would call me before the pick was going in.
“So I’m sitting there waiting for the call, waiting for the call … and then the Cubs are up. I’m like, ‘OK, well, I guess I’m not going (to the Cubs) now.’ Then all of a sudden, my name pops up (on the TV screen). Then I looked down at my phone, and the guy from the Cubs is actually calling me right then and there.
“So I was like, ‘All right, here we go.’”
Martin earned GLVC Pitcher of the Year honors as well as regional top hurler awards from the Division II Conference Commissioners Association, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and the American Baseball Coaches Association. The senior tossed 78⅔ innings this spring, striking out 152 batters. He sported a 3.55 earned run average to lead the Hawks to an at-large berth in the NCAA Midwest Regional. He held opponents to a .221 batting average and led Division II in strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings.
Martin was named the Student-Athlete of the Year in baseball by the Great Lakes Valley Conference. Martin is the 15th GLVC Scholar-Athlete of the Year in Quincy University history and the third from the baseball program. He is the first QU baseball player to receive the honor since Josh Rabe, QU’s former head coach and current athletic director, won in 2000.
Much of the rest of Martin’s day was spent answering text messages and phone calls from friends. He said he won’t learn of any contract offers or where he will be assigned until after the conclusion of the draft on Tuesday.
The Iowa Cubs remain the Cubs’ Class AAA club, while the Tennessee Smokies are the Class AA affiliate. The South Bend (Ind.) Cubs play in High-A, and the Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Pelicans play in Low-A. The Cubs also have a team in the rookie-level Arizona Complex League.
“It’s just a surreal feeling that my lifelong dream has finally come true, and all the work I put in has paid off,” Martin said. “I can’t even describe the feeling. It was just surreal.”
Other Quincy University (and Quincy College) players who were selected in the MLB Draft:
- Cody Birdsong, 2019, 32nd round (967 overall) by the Atlanta Braves
- Graham Spraker, 2017, 31st round (939 overall) by the Toronto Blue Jays
- David Jacob, 2016, 32nd round (972 overall) by the Toronto Blue Jays
- Rich Ruff, 2011, 46th round (1,392 overall) by the New York Mets
- Brad Stone, 2006, 12th round (365 overall) by the Florida Marlins
- Brad Stone, 2005, 42nd round (944 overall) by the Houston Astros
- Josh Rabe, 2000, 11th round (312 overall) by the Minnesota Twins
- Jason Rakers, 1997, 34th round (1,040 overall) by the San Diego Padres
- Steve Spanich, 1968, 26th round (589 overall) by the Chicago White Sox
- Dewey Kalmer, 1966, 18th round (346 overall) by the Washington Senators
- Dennis Trame, 1965, 38th round (682 overall) by the New York Yankees
Trame, a right-handed pitcher, was selected in the sixth round of the 1966 secondary draft by the Atlanta Braves with the 94th pick. The secondary draft was held in January 1966 for players who did not sign after they were drafted in the June 1965 draft.
Four players from Quincy University went on to play in the major leagues. Rabe played from 1998-2000 with the Minnesota Twins. Josh Kinney played from 1998-2001 with the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago White Sox and Seattle Mariners. Jim Finigan played from 1954-59 with the Philadelphia Athletics, Detroit Tigers, San Francisco Giants and Baltimore Orioles. El Tappe played for the Cubs from 1954-62.
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