Looking ahead a couple of Canadian Premier Baseball League seasons, Eric Martin has secured his future beyond his time in a Great Lake Canadians uniform with a commitment to Indiana State University.
The 16-year-old outfielder and right-handed pitcher impressed the Sycamores brass during the fall, and continued to leave his mark at the Centrefield Sports college/pro showcase in October. After a second visit to the school over the the final weekend of March, the choice became a simple one.
“They saw me at Butler [University] when we played there in the fall,” Martin said. “We visited before we went to Butler, and then they saw me at the showcase here in October, and we talked all throughout the winter. Then I went there over Easter weekend and visited, and they wanted an answer because they gave me the offer in early February, so I made the decision…
“It was a pretty easy decision. It just felt right, and it felt like home. It was nice, the city wasn’t too big, everyone there was really nice, and it just felt right being there.”
After gauging the impressions of two Great Lake alumni who currently wear the Sycamores uniform – catcher Max Wright and hurler Tyler Whitbread – Martin also got a chance to talk to another Canadian player and members of the Indiana State staff during his time at the school, with a closer look at the resources he will be able to utilize upon his arrival.
“I talked to Max Wright a little bit over Instagram, and then I also talked to Tyler Whitbread more over text,” Martin said. “So I talked to a couple of the Great Lake players who are there now, and they really like it and they’ve enjoyed being there…
“I talked to Dane Tofteland the first time I went there. He’s from Alberta and he’s very similar to me – tall, athletic, and he’s an outfielder. I liked what he had to say, and then I talked to head coach [Mitch Hannahs] the first time I went down there and the way he described the program seemed very similar to Great Lake – you work your butt off in practice and then it’s more laid back in the game, and he lets the players play. So I liked that, and then [assistant coach] Jordan Tiegs has a very similar mindset to [GLC pitching coordinator Adam Arnold] so I like that because it makes everything easier.
“Their facilities were great, the field was really nice, they had a nice scoreboard, and I liked that with their indoor facility they have top priority, where at other schools you would have to fight with the football team or other teams, but baseball has top priority at Indiana State.”
Heading to university as a two-way talent, Martin is looking forward to getting a chance to pitch and hit at the college level, but understands that the results may dictate where he eventually lands.
“Eric Martin is a high-ceiling kid,” GLC director of player development Adam Stern said. “He’s on the front end of what he can become. Right now, he’s still a dual guy – he’s an outfielder and a pitcher – and he’s a very good athlete. He’s just kind of coming into is own now. He got a really nice scholarship from Indiana State and he’s one of those guys who’s going to keep growing – he’s going to be a monster.
“Right now, pitching and playing the outfield, he’ll see which one takes off. Maybe both are equally good, but obviously with the type of athlete he is, you want to keep him in the field as long as you can and let him try to be a middle-of-the-order run producer.”
Added Martin: “The plan is for me to do both [pitch and play the outfield] and then if the game chooses one or the other, then I’ll go for one. But as of right now, I’m going to do both.”
Entering his third year with the GLC program, the Kitchener native is grateful for everything he has learned within the organization, and how it will help him move forward into his collegiate career.
“The GLC program helps you work on not just skills but also situations, and everything is very business-like,” Martin said. “When I got to [Indiana State] it was very business-like, everybody knew what they were doing, it ran on time, they were on a schedule, and Great Lake is very similar. Even their [batting practice] was exactly the same as Great Lake. Everything was set up very similar, so I felt comfortable because I was used to it.”
The Canadians organization is exited to see what more he can do as he continues in the red-and-black uniform and beyond.
“When he is on, Eric has shown the ability to square up a baseball as well as anyone his age,” GLC 17U manager Brock Kjeldgaard said. “With his size, speed and athleticism, Eric has the ability to be a very solid middle-of-the-order Division-I baseball player. His athleticism will help him continue to grow in the outfield and he’ll only get better.”
After a couple more seasons with the Canadians, Martin is looking forward to what his future with the Sycamores holds.
“I’m excited to play against really good competition, playing against the top schools and competing in a new environment,” he said. “It will be a little bit more competitive, with better pitchers, better hitters, and it will be a lot of fun.”