By Ray Albert
Salem native Riley Martin continued his meteoric rise through the Chicago Cubs farm system when he was promoted to the Triple-A Iowa Cubs last week.
That move puts Martin one step away from his dream of playing in the Major Leagues.
This is the 25-year-old lefty’s second season as a professional baseball player, and he began the season at the Double-A Tennessee Smokies before his promotion to Iowa. The Iowa Cubs are located in Des Moines.
“It’s been pretty cool,” Riley said. “The goal this season was to, obviously, start at Double-A and work my way up. I still have more goals to accomplish this season but getting to Triple-A this year was really awesome.”
Martin was having a great season in Tennessee before being called up. He worked out of the bullpen and had a 4-1 record with a 3.25 earned run average. He also logged four saves for the team. One of the most impressive stats, however, was the 49 strikeouts in just 27 ⅔ innings. Opposing hitters only batted .147 off of him this year.
“I knew I had big goals for this year but having the start I had in Double-A I think it was just a matter of time,” said Riley.
“I’ve been throwing the ball really well and feel really good,” he continued. “I made some adjustments on some of my stuff during the offseason and it turned out to be pretty good.”
“I loved growing up in Salem,” he said. “I love the small town vibe. I have a very close family on both sides. It’s cool getting all of the support I have from Salem and even Odin. Both of my parents grew up in Odin.
“Being so far away from home with everyone rooting for me from home is pretty awesome.”
Riley said there are some big differences between college baseball and the professional level.
“I didn’t have access to technology like I have here,” he said. “All of the little videos I can watch of all the pitches that I throw makes a huge difference. And scheduling is a big difference, especially now that I’m in Triple-A. I potentially am available to throw every single day, whereas in college I was a starter and I threw once a week. I have a super planned out routine.”
Martin grew up a St. Louis Cardinals fan and thinks about his first appearance at Busch Stadium when he cracks the Major Leagues.
“That will be amazing.” Riley said. “I know a lot of people from the area would make it out for that. It would be pretty awesome. That would be an ideal situation for me.”
It’s most probably a matter of when and not if for him to crack the Chicago Cubs roster. And that would be a great thing for the Salem and Odin areas as well as Martin himself.