Mystifying downfall for an Inland baseball star

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A feel-good story about a young baseball player who was seemingly on his way to the Major Leagues has turned into a nightmare for three families in the Inland Empire.

Twenty-three-year-old Brandon Martin – a graduate of Santiago High School in Corona – is due to go on trial later this year in a triple homicide. He’s accused of committing the crime with a baseball bat that had his name engraved on the barrel.

Depending on who you ask, you’ll hear that Martin’s downfall was the result of drug use, mental illness or simply getting too much too soon. His life began spiraling put of control soon after signing a contract with the Tampa Bay Rays that paid him more than $800,000.

Martin, who has pleaded not guilty, is not granting interviews.

But L.A. Times reporter Nathan Fenno has chronicled Martin’s sad transition, detailing how in the space of a few years he went from a mild-mannered son, sibling and friend to a person who many, including his family, were scared to be around.

“In a lot of ways he was living the dream of so many youngsters, you know he had made it. The first off-season after his first professional stint he rented a literal mansion down in Yorba Linda, with some of his signing bonus that was almost a $1 million,” Fenno says. “There were parties, women, drugs and eventually it spiraled into a situation where the police were there a lot. It was a little out of control.”