ST. PETERSBURG -- Rangers amateur scout Jay Heafner was at Tropicana Field on Saturday night to watch the Major League debut of pitcher Nick Martinez. Heafner now works in southern Texas, but was a scout in the northeast three years ago when Martinez was at Fordham University.
Martinez was primarily an infielder who was also used as a reliever. But Heafner saw enough of him as a pitcher to believe that's the direction Martinez should take professionally.
"Just the way the ball came out of his hand, the way his delivery worked and his presence," Heafner said. "He didn't look like a infielder trying to pitch. He looked like a pitcher. It was worth taking a chance."
He also had to convince Martinez that pitching was the way to go.
"It's not that he didn't like it," Heafner said. "With his confidence and his chip on the shoulder, he thought he could still hit and wanted to hit. We had a good conversation. I explained it to him and he bought into it."
The Rangers took Martinez in the 18th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. He is the first player from Fordham to play in the Majors since pitcher Pete Harnisch in 2001. He is also the first Rangers player from Fordham.
Bobby Crook, now a scout but formerly manager of amateur scouting, was also instrumental in signing Martinez.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.