Boise State linebacker and Fruitland High grad Joe Martarano singled in his first at-bat and finished 1 for 2 with a walk and a run scored in his professional baseball debut Friday night for the Mesa Cubs of the rookie-level Arizona League.

Martarano was a 22nd round selection by the Chicago Cubs in the recent Major League Baseball Draft and officially signed with the organization on Wednesday. He had been working out the past two weeks at the Cubs’ spring training complex in Mesa prior to making his debut on Friday.

The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Martarano is expected to be a key contributor on special teams for the Boise State football team this fall as a redshirt freshman. He’s also a reserve linebacker that could work his way into the mix for playing time as well.

Martarano, who also committed two errors at third base on Friday, received a signing bonus less than the $100,000 he turned down from the Philadelphia Phillies last summer after they took him in the 13th round out of high school.

It’s possible that Martarano could join the Cubs’ Short Season Class-A affiliate in Boise at some point this season. Boise State opens fall practice on July 31.

Boise State coach Bryan Harsin, who approved Martarano’s request to play baseball this summer, has been in contact with members of the Cubs’ organization about the possibility of him playing with the Boise Hawks even after fall practice starts.

A scenario being discussed would potentially let the talented two-way player practice with the football team during the day and serve as the designated hitter for the Boise Hawks at night.

The plan, at least for now, is for Martarano to get needed at-bats in Arizona before returning to Boise at some point before the start of fall camp. Whether or not he would play for the Hawks or focus solely on football has yet to be decided.

Eagle High grad Andrew Ely also made his professional debut for the Mesa Cubs on Friday night. Ely, a 32nd round pick out of the University of Washington, went 1 for 3 while batting eighth and playing second base.

B.J Rains covers Boise State athletics for the Idaho Press-Tribune. He also makes daily appearances on ESPN Boise.


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