Some pitchers are born.
They're big and strong, intimidating figures on the mound.
Other pitchers are made.
Lucas Martin may not have been born to be a pitcher, but he definitely made himself into one.
As a senior at Lompoc High, he was listed at about 5-foot-8 and 150 pounds; definitely not the ace pitcher prototype.
But Martin did have one physical advantage to help him conquer the opposition: His left arm.
Martin used that arm to fool and befuddle opponents. Former Braves coach Jim Allen said Martin's fastball topped out at around 84 or 85 mph.
His off-speed offerings, however, were still unhittable. Martin dominated with pin-point control, a change-up and a curveball.
During his final season at Lompoc, in the spring of 2012, Martin was named the Times' All-Area MVP as he went 11-5 with a 1.50 ERA in 99 innings. He appeared in 19 games and started 14 times. In 10 of those 14 starts, Martin finished the game.
Though his fastball was in the low- to mid-80s, Martin still struck out well over a batting an inning, finishing the year with 122 Ks. He walked just 35 batters that season. He finished the year with four shutouts.
Martin is the next Player of the Decade nominee. He joins Pioneer Valley grad Chad De La Guerra; former Santa Ynez standouts Zach Torra and Tommy Rowan; Righetti grad Troy Prober; Arroyo Grande's Ryan Teixeira; Santa Maria's Trevor Garcia and Nipomo's Jeff McNeil, who's playing in the majors with the New York Mets.
The lefty wasn't just a one-year wonder either. Martin went 7-1 with a 1.56 ERA in 2010 as a junior, with one complete game in 49 1/3 innings of work. He struck out 61 batters and walked just 14 that year.
“He grew up a little bit on the mound,” Allen said back in 2012. “He was able to locate his fastball real well, mix in some off-speed stuff."
“I just grew a lot mentally during the season,” Martin told the Times after being named All-Area MVP in 2012. “I was able to mix my pitches better and get a better command of the strike zone.”
Martin, though, was able to overpower opponents at times, though he used his deceptive velocity to do it.
“He throws a little bit harder than what people give him credit for. His fastball’s probably 84, 85 miles per hour on a good day," Allen once said. "With that change-up and curve he has, he’s going to be just fine at the next level.”
Martin and Lompoc made the CIF Southern Section Division 5 title game in 2011. He then helped the Braves make it to the Division 5 semifinals in 2012.
After graduating from Lompoc in 2012, Martin pitched at Cuesta for a season and earned All-Conference First Team honors in 2013. He finished 7-5 with seven complete games and a 3.22 ERA that year. He then pitched at Hancock in 2014.
The Times is polling current and former coaches to develop its list of nominees for Player of the Decade. A tournament-style voting contest will be held to determine the Player of the Decade. Readers will be able to vote online at santamariatimes.com; lompocrecord.com and syvnews.com. Players from Northern Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County whose final seasons where between 2010 and 2020 are eligible.