Theo Fightmaster, General Manager
Wednesday was the kind of day that makes my job so great. After spotting a handful of talented players on Tuesday, we were prepared to offer contracts to a couple of young ballplayers.
The first was a 23-year-old kid by the name of Daniel Martinez. Martinez is from St. Petersburg, Fla., and grew up a Yankees fan, rooting and idolizing Derek Jeter. His mother, Maria — another diehard Yankees fan — was with him, rooting on her son for the past week in Palm Springs.
We saw Daniel make some slick plays at third base yesterday. He’s got a strong and accurate arm, and incredible hands. Though he loves Jeter, his smoothness and swagger on the infield is more reminiscent of Robinson Cano.
It was such a thrill for me to offer Daniel his first professional contract. We discussed the team, the league, told him and his mother about Sonoma, and made a dream come true. To quote the great basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton, “How cool is that?”
Daniel played in a wood-bat league last summer, where he hit .296, with three homers, five triples and 11 doubles. He also stole 23 bases. I’m confident he can lock down a starting job on our infield and be a part of the Stompers success until other teams realize what he can do at the next level.
Daniel came to us highly recommended by Tim Johnson — a former manager for the Toronto Blue Jays — currently Daniel’s infield instructor down here in the California Winter League.
It was with similar enthusiasm that we signed a young Japanese utility infielder by the name of Yuki Yasuda. With this signing, the Stompers lead the Pacific Association with the most players named Yuki in league history. Yuki is from Japan, and is very good friends with Yuki Sakama, our ace left-handed reliever in 2014. Sakama and Yasuda spoke over the phone Tuesday night, and Sakama was kind enough to give the Stompers the highest of recommendations.
Yasuda is 24, stands 5-foot, 10-inches tall, and play a mean second base. He can also spray the ball to all fields with that patented Japanese approach at the plate that puts an emphasis on solid contact, and hitting the ball where it’s pitched.
Yasuda has three years of pro experience under his belt, having played the last three seasons in the Pecos League. In 2014 he hit .321 with 22 RBIs, got on base at a .390 clip and stole eight bases. He committed only three errors all season.