Kyle Martin was surrounded by friends and family at his parents’ home in Oceanside on June 5. They were all glued to MLB.com, watching the Major League Baseball Draft when, finally, Martin realized a lifelong dream. The 21-year-old was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 15th round, the 438th pick overall.
“It’s something I’ve been waiting for since I started playing,” Martin said. “There’s such joy that I’ve never experienced. It really was the best feeling in the world. It was a dream come true.”
Martin, a right-handed pitcher, began playing baseball in Oceanside Little League at age 4, and went on to take the field for several travel teams, the Ocean-side Middle School squad and the Oceanside High School team. After high school he played for Fordham University, earning many accolades along the way, and became the 37th Ram to be selected in the MLB Draft.
Martin mostly played shortstop at Oceanside High, but was converted to pitcher in his junior year. His former coaches said he can dial his velocity up to over 90 mph, and noted that he has a great slider.
On the night he was selected, Martin was watching the draft with six of his former teammates; his brothers, Chris and Matt Jr.; and his mother, Laura. He chatted with his father, Matt Sr., on the phone. After learning he was drafted, Martin received a call from Daniel O’Dowd, a scout for the Orioles.
He attributed his success to his parents’ support. “My parents told me never to give up on my dreams,” Kyle said, “and to never let anybody tell me I can’t do anything.”
He grew up a Mets fan, and idolizes legendary pitcher Tom Seaver. Martin began playing on the varsity team at Oceanside in ninth grade, which his former coach, Mike Postilio, said is a rare feat that can be attributed to his athleticism and approach to the game.
“He’s one of those players that don’t come around that often,” Postilio said. “He was one of the best players on the field for us. He just was a gifted kid that did everything. He could hit the ball farther than others and throw the ball harder than others. He just stood out from an early age.”
Martin said that Postilio and assistant coach Richie Woods helped shape him into a confident player. Woods described Martin as one of the kindest players he ever coached, and noted that he was the only person from Oceanside High to win the Diamond Award, which goes to the best player in the league, as voted by Nassau County coaches.
Woods said he remembered Martin being a bit shy when he first began coaching him in high school, but as his skills developed, he began gaining confidence in his game and carried himself well on and off of the diamond. “It was always a quiet confidence,” Woods said. “He’s humble. He’s not the kind of guy that wears his medals on his sleeve. When I look at the kids who made it, they all have that thing inside of them, that quiet drive that nothing around them is going to stop them from getting where they want to go and Kyle had that.”
Martin’s high school success led to a decorated college career. As a freshman at Fordham he was an All-American, and in his junior year he was named the Atlantic 10 Conference Relief Pitcher of the Year. He just finished his junior season, in which he helped lead the Rams to the 2019 Atlantic 10 championship and to their first NCAA tournament appearance in more than 20 years. He compiled a 6-2 record this season, and recorded 10 saves in 30 relief appearances, a 2.44 ERA and 65 strikeouts. He was also instrumental in the Rams’ setting a school record for strikeouts for the fifth consecutive year, with 605.
Martin said it was a long journey to the draf, but he has enjoyed the ride. “It was, honestly, just the best feeling in the world,” he said of being selected by Baltimore. “All the hard work, all the long hours, everything was worth it.”
He said he plans to finish his degree in political science at Fordham, and will graduate next spring. Over the weekend, he traveled to the Orioles’ spring training complex in Sarasota, Fla. He planned to train there for a week, and then head to the Orioles’ short-A affiliate in Aberdene, Md., which he equated to the Brooklyn Cyclones or Staten Island Yankees. Martin said he was excited about the Orioles’ future, and hoped to make the big leagues one day.
Joe Bonin, who was Martin’s phys. ed. teacher at Oceanside School No. 3 and coached him in baseball at Oceanside Middle School, said that even at a young age, Martin displayed the characteristics of a future professional athlete. “No matter what sport we were playing, he was good at everything,” Bonin recounted. “He just stood out among his classmates, but you would never know by asking him.”
Martin said that he hoped his story would help inspire future Oceanside baseball players. “People used to always be surprised when I would tell them I want to play professional baseball because no one really got drafted out of Oceanside or had any success in baseball,” he said. “I just want kids here to not let anyone ever tell you that. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t reach your dreams and be a success.”