There is no way that Jeison Martinez could have imagined his annual summer sojourn to Hoboken would lead to a professional baseball contract with his favorite team, the New York Yankees.
After all, teenagers like Martinez simply dream of the chance to play pro ball. Most don't even get a hint of a pro contract until their high school days are done - and even then, they only sniff the pros if they're very talented and very lucky.
Martinez, the 16-year-old product of the Dominican Republic, who has spent the better part of the last three summers playing baseball on the fields of Hudson County, thought he was headed back to his homeland for another year of high school. How could he ever think it was possible for anything else?
But there's a tiny quirk to major league baseball rules that allow teams to sign 16-year-old teens, provided they are not attending high school in the United States, nor are they U.S. citizens. Martinez is still a citizen of the Dominican Republic and eligible for pro baseball.
With the help of local baseball guru Ed "The Faa" Ford, a former major league scout with four clubs, Martinez attended a few workout sessions in front of scouts for the Yankees, Mets and Atlanta Braves. The workouts were established with the possibility of Martinez signing a contract right away, despite his tender age.
Martinez, a dynamite catcher with a world of talent, impressed all three teams enough to earn offers, but in the end, the Yankees, led by the persistence of local scouting supervisor Cesar Presbott, won the bidding wars.
On Saturday, before the Jersey City Cobra baseball team was set to face a team from Florida in the Sandy Koufax World Series - a tournament where Martinez made his name and talents known just two years ago - Martinez signed his name to the dotted line. The contract was provided by Presbott and rumored to be in the vicinity of $70,000, including provisions for college tuition.
"I never was expecting this to happen this early," Martinez said. "I figured I would come back to Hoboken and play summer baseball, just have some fun. But then I had the personal tryout, thanks to Mr. Ford, and the scouts came out to see me."
"Baseball is my whole life," Martinez added. "It's a dream come true. And to get a chance to play with the Yankees is amazing for me. It's the best team to play for."
Martinez went back to the Dominican Republic on Sunday to finish some of his high school courses. Then he will report to the Yankees' minor league training complex in Tampa to participate in the team's Instructional League. After all, he's only 16. There's no need to rush the product.
And in Presbott's eyes, Martinez is definitely a star on the rise.
"We made a very good projection on him," Presbott said. "Right now, he has three-plus major league tools and he's only 16 years old. He definitely has some major league tools. He's young, with a lot of pluses."
After Martinez signed the contract, he received congratulations from the players of both teams, who had to realize that he was just like they were exactly two years ago.
In that respect, Jeison Martinez is definitely a star of tomorrow - a professional one at that.
SIGN HERE, JEISON - Hoboken resident Jeison Martinez signs a professional baseball contract with the New York Yankees at Cochrane Stadium, before the second round of the Sandy Koufax World Series.