Catching Up With Jack Marder
By Haley Hirai
Jack Marder didn't think it was a big deal that he got to coach first base in a minor league game. He doesn't think his pulled rib muscle is a big deal either. The draft was no different for the former Oregon baseball star. He was on the computer in his parents' room when the Seattle Mariners called his name in the 16th round of the 2011 MLB First Year Player Draft.
"I tried to stay calm the whole time. My mom got all excited. I try not to make it that big of a deal. It wasn't really that big a deal," said Marder.
As much as Marder modestly tries to downplay his successes, the former Oregon catcher is on the rise with the High Desert Mavericks, the Mariners' Class-A Advanced affiliate. In his professional debut, he started behind the plate, and went 2 for 3 with a double and a run scored. His first professional home run came a few days later. He was batting .320 before becoming temporarily sidelined by a minor rib injury.
While most rookies are sent to Rookie, Class-A Short Season, or Class A ball, Marder arrived directly at Class A-Advanced, which is often a player's second or third stop in the minor leagues.
"In order for me to leave Oregon, it had to be something that was great. I was fortunate enough to get drafted by the Mariners. They told me that I'd go straight [to high-A] and that was part of the deal, kind of," he said. "The organization needed a lot of catching and my dream is to play in Major League Baseball, even though I loved Oregon and everything about it."
Marder's life in the minor leagues is "definitely a lot different" than his life at school. Living with four of his teammates, Marder gets home from his games around 11 p.m. or midnight, then wakes up the late the next morning and goes right to the field again.
"You wake up every single day and do the exact same thing," said Marder. "It's my job now."
Before signing with the Mariners and joining the Mavericks, Marder started the summer with the Falmouth Commodores in the Cape Cod League, where Mariners scouts frequently came to watch him play. Oregon teammate Christian Jones joined Marder on the Commodores, and they faced other Oregon teammates Ryon Healy, Stefan Sabol, Alex Keudell, and J.J. Altobelli around the league.
Marder joked about batting against Keudell, one of Oregon's starting pitchers. "He got me out three times. He carved me up pretty good," he said with a smile.
His teammates are what Marder will miss most about Oregon and college life.
"The team, first of all. I love the team. The coaching staff was amazing. I'm going to miss football games, but really just the team," he said.
Marder never knew his last game in an Oregon uniform would really be his last. He missed the final month of the season because of a thumb injury. His favorite memories at Oregon include going to the 2010 NCAA Regionals in his freshman season and sweeping rival Oregon State to end the season this year.
"It was one of the toughest things in order to leave, but it's just an opportunity I couldn't pass up," he said. "All of us play because we want to play [in the majors]. It's a dream come true in order to be able to make it."
Marder has taken the first steps on his way to achieving that dream. And no matter what he says, it's a pretty big deal.