After being released from the Houston Astros in the spring of 2014, the Detroit Tigers jumped at the opportunity to have J.D. Martinez as part of their organization, signing him immediately following his release from the Astros. Since being with the Tigers, Martinez has launched 23 and 38 home runs in 2014 and 2015, propelling himself into the top-10 outfielders in the game conversation.
Digital Media and Graphic Design Coordinator Michael Callahan sat down with Martinez when he was in Miami for Opening Day. Martinez opened up about the changes he made, hitting behind Miguel Cabrera, his path to NSU and how NSU molded him into the ballplayer that he is today. Click on the story image or watch the video below.
In addition to Martinez, 11 more former Nova Southeastern University baseball players are excelling at the game's highest level:
Mike Fiers – Houston Astros
Fiers is 6-4 with a 4.75 ERA in 18 appearances, and 17 starts, for the Astros, ranking second on the team in wins. In 96.2 innings, he has totaled 69 strikeouts to just 24 walks. In ten home starts, of which Houston has won eight, Fiers is 5-2 with a 3.34 ERA, .245 opponent batting average, and 48 strikeouts to 13 walks in 56.2 innings. Since the start of June, he is 3-0 with a 3.11 ERA and 26 strikeouts to 12 walks in 37.2 innings, leading the Astros to a 6-1 record in his starts.
Miles Mikolas – Yomiuri Giants
After missing the first three months of the season with a right shoulder injury, Mikolas has returned to make three starts for Yomiuri, gearing up to be a big factor in the Giants' quest to catch up to the Japan Central League leaders Hiroshima, who they are ten games behind at the All-Star break. So far, Mikolas has a 5.27 ERA and seven strikeouts in 13.2 innings.
Carlos Asuaje – San Diego Padres Organization
Asuaje is enjoying perhaps the best season of his professional career for the Padres' AAA affiliate El Paso Chihuahuas, knocking on the door of the big league club to become the fourth Shark to make his Major League debut. The Padres' No. 13 prospect by Baseball America and No. 16 according to MLB.com, Asuaje places among the league-leaders in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, ranking second in runs scored (69) and hits (113), fourth in triples (7), fifth in at bats (345) and batting average (.328), sixth in total bases (161), and tenth in on-base percentage (.387). Against right-handed pitchers, Asuaje is hitting .341 with 22 of his 31 extra-base hits on the season, including four of his five home runs, and .303 against other lefties. In 28 games in the month of May, he tallied 42 hits, 25 runs scored, nine doubles, 16 RBI, 11 walks, and a .378 batting average, which led all 500 affiliated minor leaguers who recorded at least 100 at bats during the month. On May 16, he was named to the MLB Pipeline Prospect Team of the Week after hitting .444 over the previous seven games, with five doubles, eight runs scored and six driven in. Asuaje participated in the MLB Futures Game, part of the MLB All-Star Game festivities, on July 10 at Petco Park in San Diego, where he received a warm welcome from the Padres fans in his future home stadium. Playing for the World team, the Venezuelan native entered the game in the fifth inning at third base and was 2-for-2 with a walk and a run scored. Just three days and 2,079 miles later, Asuaje played all nine innings of the Triple-A All-Star Game for the PCL team, leading off and playing second base. In 11 games so far in July, he is hitting .383, with 12 runs scored, four doubles, a homer and seven RBI.
Ryan Castellanos – Detroit Tigers Organization
Castellanos has been dominant for Tigers' Low-A affiliate Connecticut Tigers of the New York-Pennsylvania League, with a 4-2 record, 2.20 ERA, and .223 opponent batting average in six appearances, totaling 17 strikeouts in 28.2 innings. He's been even better in three relief appearances in July, earning the win in each one, while allowing just one run on 11 hits and one walk, for an ERA of 0.60, and striking out 10 batters in 15 innings. He has faced 70 right-handed batters this batters, holding them to a .140 average and striking them out 15 times.
Alexander Fernandez – Detroit Tigers Organization
Fernandez played in 16 games for the Greensboro Grasshoppers in the South Atlantic League and five for the Batavia Muckdogs in the New York-Pennsylvania League before being released by the Miami Marlins organization. It wasn't long before the Detroit Tigers called and Fernandez signed with the same organization as his former teammate Ryan Castellanos. Currently, Fernandez has a .409 on-base percentage with six walks in seven games in the Gulf Coast League. He is 6-for-7 on stolen bases across all levels this season.
Daniel Zardon – Philadelphia Phillies Organization
In nine games in the Gulf Coast League, Zardon is hitting .231 with four runs scored, three double, three RBI and three walks. He started his professional career slow, but found his rhythm over his last four games, during which time he is 7-19 (.368), with two runs, two doubles and all three of his RBI. Zardon has also gone 27 plate appearances without a strikeout.
Alex Mateo – Miami Marlins Organization
Mateo passed through the Gulf Coast League quickly, appearing in just three games. He struck out five batters in 3.1 innings, allowing two runs on four hits, and holding his opponents scoreless in two of his three outings. He made his debut for the Batavia Muckdogs of the New York-Pennsylvania League on July 6, recording another scoreless inning of work, with two strikeouts. After a rough outing, Mateo bounced back with three shutout innings in relief on July 15. Between both levels, Mateo has 10 strikeouts to just three walks in ten innings, with a 6.30 ERA.
Alexander Kline – Philadelphia Phillies Organization
Also playing in the New York-Pennsylvania League, Kline was assigned directly to the Williamsport Crosscutters, where he has been throwing gas. He began his career with six strikeouts in three hitless innings and his first pro win in his second appearance. He has pitched in six games, accumulating 12 strikeouts in 10.1 innings. He has held opposing batters to an impressive .167 average, and right-handed hitters to an even better .148, allowing just six hits and one for extra bases, for a .194 slugging percentage.
Devin Raftery – Houston Astros Organization
Playing in the Appalachian League with the Greeneville Astros, Raftery has been just as dominant as he was with the Sharks. He has 20 strikeouts of the 44 batters that he has faced in just 10.2 innings, most recently striking out eight batters in just three innings of work in a marathon 20-inning Astros win on July 17, their longest game in franchise history. Raftery's eight strikeouts were the most by any of the 15 pitchers in the game, and helped lead Greeneville to 34 as a staff and a combined 56 for both sides. He has recorded at least one strikeout in each of his six professional appearances thus far, and at least three strikeouts in each of his last four games. Raftery has allowed just one run on eight hits, holding opponents scoreless in five straight games and 9.1 consecutive innings. He has also held hitters to a .205 average, including a .192 average against right-handed batters, with 14 strikeouts out of 28 batters faced.
Zachary Westcott – Windy City Thunderbolts (Independent)
Westcott has found himself bouncing around this offseason, beginning with a blockbuster trade that sent him from the Lincoln Saltdogs to the St. Paul Saints for the top hitter in the league at the time. During his time in Lincoln, Westcott compiled a 4.36 ERA with eight strikeouts in 10.1 innings pitched. After a short stint in St. Paul, Westcott signed with the Windy City Thunderbolts where he has a 4.50 ERA and five strikeouts in four innings pitched.
Roche Woodard – Roswell Invaders (Independent)
After a successful first season in the Pecos League, Woodard has returned to help Roswell defend its league title, and he has been even better in year two, as part of the league's best offense. He's hitting .327 with a .415 on-base percentage and .619 slugging, leading the league in runs scored with 72, and leading the team in stolen bases with 17, also the most in the league by a player who has yet to be caught. His 16 home runs are fifth in the league, thanks to a four-game home run streak last week in which he added five more. He also has 11 doubles and 52 RBI, and has worn eight pitches. Woodard and the Invaders are entering the home stretch of the regular season, with the last games coming on July 28. Roswell, 2.5 games out of the division lead, is in a good position to return to the post-season.