BOISE — Linebacker Joe Martarano, who turned down $100,000 to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies last summer, could be picked again by a Major League Baseball team this weekend. This time, Martarano who redshirted last football season has permission from the Broncos to sign and play professional baseball.
Three or four MLB teams have been in contact with Martarano, his father told the Idaho Statesman. But it is not a certainty he gets drafted.
"We're hoping he could go somewhere for five weeks and play," Victor Martarano said, which would allow Joe Martarano to be back for the start of fall football practice.
Martarano was a slugging third baseman at Fruitland High and could have been a high-round draft pick in last summer's draft, but chose Boise State football over baseball. The Phillies selected him in the 13th round. Former Boise State football coach Chris Petersen did not allow Martarano to play baseball.
But Petersen had softened his stance, Victor Martarano said, and the new coaching staff, led by Bryan Harsin, is willing to allow Martarano to try both sports. Harsin told the Statesman that Martarano's situation is unique.
Martarano is not giving up football, his father said.
"If he were willing to leave football there'd be quite a few (baseball) teams there for him. They know they're the second team," Victor Martarano said. "That's kind of what we're dealing with. We think someone will take a shot at him. But no one's come out and said 'we're going to take him.'"
Victor Martarano said the family hopes the Chicago Cubs, who have a short-season Class A team in Boise, are the ones to draft Martarano, allowing him to possibly stay in Boise.
"We're crossing our fingers for that deal," Victor Martarano said.
The Major League Baseball draft begins Thursday (5 p.m., MLB Network). The first and second rounds are Thursday with rounds three through 10 on Friday and rounds 11 through 40 on Saturday.
Teams have a predetermined allotment of bonus money for picks in the first 10 rounds. They lose a portion of that pool money for picks they are unable to sign. From the 11th round forward, teams can spend up to $100,000 per pick without affecting that bonus money. Victor Martarano expects his son to be selected Saturday because of those money issues. Teams could offer less because of Martarano's part-time status.
Martarano would be a low-risk, high-reward selection for a team, which could control his rights if Martarano decided to not play football.
"If someone does it, that'll be the reason behind it," Victor Martarano said.
College baseball players are not draft eligible until three years after their high school class graduates, but because Martarano is playing at a college without an NCAA baseball team, he is draft eligible. Martarano has not played baseball since last year, his dad said.
Martarano (6-foot-3, 241 pounds) is expected to be a backup linebacker and special teams contributor for the Broncos in 2014. He could also play fullback or H-back on offense.