EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – A pair of former SIUE baseball Cougars are getting their start in professional baseball. Nelson Martz (East Alton, Illinois) has joined the Gateway Grizzlies of the independent Frontier League while Mason McReaken (Centralia, Illinois) has recently signed a free agent contract with the Atlanta Braves.
Martz has made two appearances with the Grizzlies, covering two innings. He has struck out two hitters in 3 2/3 innings of work.
Following a standout 2017 where he led SIUE with seven wins, Martz made just seven appearances before his 2018 season was cut short due to injury.
"After his senior year, I am happy to see he is getting the opportunity to continue playing after taking some time off," SIUE Head Coach Sean Lyons said.
Primarily a reliever, McReaken played each of the last two seasons for the SIUE collecting 12 career saves, which ranks fifth-most at SIUE. He amassed 97 strikeouts in 79 2/3 innings.
"Mason brings more to the table then just his 'stuff'," Lyons said. "He has always had the persistence and the desire to play professional baseball."
McReaken signed with the Braves and has reported to Danville, Virginia, which is the rookie-level affiliate. He has not yet appeared with the Braves.
"It's a little surreal," McReaken said of his signing. "They (SIUE coaches) are a big part of this happening. Just learning from Coach Lyons and Coach (Brandon) Scott and being able to pick their brains has been great. And (strength coach) Zach Rockford has been a huge help."