Jose Cuas and Kevin Martir will have to continue their baseball careers without each other for the first time.
The former Grand Street and University of Maryland stars had been holding on to the slim hope they would be drafted by the same organization and get to play in the pros together. But they’re now coming to terms with the fact that they will finally be going their separate ways.
The duo have played on the same team together since they were 10-year-olds — from local leagues, to their New York Grays travel team, and on through high school and college. There were daily talks of opposing pitchers, hitting situations, and their team’s goals that will now have to be done over the phone.
“It would have been awesome if we had been picked by the same team, but there was less of chance,” Martir said. “We are going to stay in touch, talk every day, the same thing as if we were teammates.”
Cuas, a third baseman, was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 11th round (331st overall), and Martir, a catcher, was taken by the Houston Astros in the 18th (529th overall).
Now Cuas is in Helena, Mont., with the Brewers getting ready to start his first professional season, and Martir more than 2,000 miles away at the Astros’ training camp in Greeneville, Tenn., doing the same.
“It’s a little different, but its all good now,” Cuas said. “Just environment-wise, I’m in the middle of nowhere in the mountains. There isn’t a grocery store on the corner like I’m use to in New York City. It’s something I am willing to make the adjustment to.”
Cuas felt he could have been drafted higher had his average not dipped during his junior season at Maryland. But he did see an increase in his power numbers. The 6-foot-2 infielder hit .242, but belted a team-high 11 home runs and tied for the team-lead in runs batted in with 53.
New York Grays coach David Owens said Cuas can still add 15-pounds of muscle, and a shortening of his swing could immediately produce results.
“The power numbers are good and now you will probably see the average go up right away,” Owens said.
Martir batted a team-best .342 and with seven homers and 45 runs batted in. He is known for being a smart, savvy, and skilled defensive catcher. He is adept at handling a pitching staff, and to Owens, that is his biggest advantage at the next level.
“These pitchers are going to love to throw to him,” he said. “He controls a game like no body else. He blocks everything, giving pitchers confidence.”
Both bring a history of winning to their respective clubs. The pair led Grand Street to the 2011 Public School Athletic League title. Martir was the first New York City player to win the Catholic and Public School Athletic League baseball titles in consecutive years after winning with Xaverian the year prior.
They were both part of the revival of the baseball program at Maryland. The Terrapins reached consecutive NCAA Super Regionals after not reaching the tournament in the 43 years prior. Maryland won a program-record 42 games this year. They set a standard they expect those who come after them to continue.
“I can say I was part of the team when Maryland took that step to become a powerhouse baseball program,” Cuas said.
The two will now begin the task of having success on separate clubs. Being drafted is still a dream come true, even if it wasn’t the perfect scenario.
“It’s not what we wanted, but it’s for the best for both of us,” Cuas said. “It has always been a dream of ours to get drafted and pursue long professional careers in baseball.”