Cubs Release Joe Martarano

The Cubs have released 2014 22nd round draft pick 1B .

Now 23, Martarano played baseball part-time in the Cubs organization in 2014-15 while attending Boise State and playing D-1 FBS football during the school year, but decided to concentrate exclusively on school and football in 2016. But then he suffered a season-ending injury (broken leg) in a game versus UNLV in November 2016, and decided this time last year to give up his dream of playing in the NFL and to play baseball full-time. 

The 6'4 240+ Martarano was a two-way star football player (QB-LB) at Fruitland HS (Idaho), earning Gatorade Idaho Player of the Year and Idaho 3-A State Player of the Year honors in 2012 while also being named an Honorable Mention Parade All-American and signing an NLI with Boise State. And (BTW) he was also a third-baseman on the Fruitland baseball team, and was rated one of the top 150 players in the nation by Baseball America going into the 2013 draft. 

So Martarano was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 13th round of the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft, but (as expected) did not sign, turning down a $100K bonus offer from the Phils while opting instead to attend Boise State and play football. (Boise State head football coach Chris Petersen refused to allow Martarano to play football at BSU if he signed with the Phillies).   

Because Boise State did not have a baseball team at the time (they do now, however, with ex-Cubs minor league manager Gary Van Tol as the Head Coach), Martarano was once again eligible for selection (as the rare draft-eligible freshman) in the 2014 draft (normally a player attending a four-year college is not eligible for selection in the MLB First-Year Player Draft until after his junior year or when he turns 21, whichever comes first), and the Cubs selected him in the 22nd round and signed him a month later, even though Martarano hadn't played baseball in more than a year and appeared to be fully-committed to playing college football.

The deal was possible only because the Cubs and new Boise State head football coach Bryan Harsin (Chris Petersen's successor) agreed to let Martarano play football at Boise State (with football being his #1 priority), with the opportunity to play pro baseball in the summer if he was so inclined, and defer his decision about which sport to pursue professionally until he completed his college career.  

Because he was a two-sport player, Martarano's signing bonus (by rule) could be spread over several seasons (either three, four, or five), and in Martarano's case, it was spread over four years (2014-2017). However, he remained under club control through the 2020 season (or longer if he had been added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster at some point), giving him at least four seasons to metriculate in the art & science of baseball and (hopefully) advance upward through the Cubs system.     

The baseball development time he missed while concentrating on school and football put him in a "catch-up" position at Extended Spring Training last year, but he hit an impressive 324/448/500 in 26 Cactus League EXST games (87 PA) and led the team in HBP, and then followed that up by hitting 340/433/440 in 15 games at SS-A Eugene. That earned him a promotion to Lo-A South Bend in July, but he struggled at that level (hitting just 208/263/292 in 32 games) and never got going. Things didn't go any better at Minor League Camp this year, and so he was left behind at Extended Spring Training when the South Bend Cubs left town on April 2nd. 

Whether Martarano will pursue his baseball career elsewhere (with another MLB organization or maybe in an independent league) or go back to college and play football again (he has one year of college football eligibilty remaining if he decides to return to school) remains to be seen. 

Comments

Looks like Joe made a bad choice.

Ex-Cub minor league INF-OF Joey Martarano will be playing college football this fall at the College of Idaho (an NAIA school). 

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