Thanks to the Baltimore Orioles going completely off the board with the second-overall pick, the Blue Jays were gifted Austin Martin, who some view as the best overall player in the draft. Let’s get the hype train rolling.
Over at Sportsnet, Shi Davidi spoke with Shane Farrell, who’s at the helm of his first-ever draft as the Blue Jays’ scouting director. Farrell said the Jays were “surprised” and “ecstatic” to end up with Martin with the fifth pick…
“We were a little surprised,” that Martin was available, Farrell admitted on a conference call. “Obviously we’re keeping an eye on the mock drafts as they come out throughout the week and are aware of industry consensus, but it really started to shake up at picks two and three and we were surprised a bit but certainly prepared to make that selection.
“We were ecstatic to have the chance to pick Austin.”
The Blue Jays can worry about how Martin fits defensively once the time comes. He was announced as a shortstop, so it seems they’ll give him the chance to prove himself that he didn’t get at Vandy this spring. Adding the best pure hitter in the class to an already talented young core is a huge win for a Toronto team on the rise. Great pick.
Absolute robbery. The Jays have desperately craved for outfield talent throughout their organization, and Austin Martin should now slot as the center fielder of the future. He’s the top player on my board and will likely cost big time money for the Jays, but he’s ta huge get for a team nearing the end of a rebuild.
“I’m not going to compare [Martin] to anyone,” Corbin says. “But while I’m watching [“The Last Dance”], I’m thinking of this kid. You can see how competitive people control and command their adrenaline in a high-pressure situation. They crave and survive those moments and push others to raise themselves.”
“I just love to win,” Martin says. “Well, honestly, I hate losing even more than I love to win.”
The best pure hitter in the 2020 Draft, Martin has tremendous feel for the barrel and makes consistent hard contact with a short, quick right-handed stroke. He’s not overly physical and may not have more than average raw power, but his hitting ability allows him to tap into every bit of it. He controls the strike zone extremely well and uses the entire field, exhibiting no weaknesses at the plate.
Martin possesses solid speed and the instincts to play faster than that on the bases. A twitchy athlete, he has the quick feet, soft hands and enough arm to handle almost any position, though there are some concerns about his throwing. Scouts were hoping to see him at shortstop in 2020, but he instead opened the season at third base before moving to center field (where he could be a solid defender), and there’s some thought he could wind up at second base.
At the plate, Martin combines a good feel for the barrel with command over the strike zone. He seldom swings at bad pitches, and he was the toughest power-conference hitter to strike out during the abbreviated season. He isn’t swinging a wet newspaper up there, either. His exit velocities suggest there’s above-average power potential to be uncovered. If you look around the majors, the type of player who is adding pop most frequently is the one with premium bat-to-ball and pitch-recognition skills. Martin would seem to fit in that class.
When you add those components of Martin’s game together, along with his instinctual and above-average baserunning, you get an up-the-middle player who can contribute across the board. That’s a heck of a player.
They’re both probably going to be good players. I just think Martin is going to be more valuable (than Torkelson).
Martin was named as a shortstop when he was drafted, though he spent the majority of his time in 2020 at Vanderbilt as a centre fielder. After being selected by the Blue Jays, Martin said he’s ready to play wherever the Blue Jays want him. Farrell didn’t offer any information on where Martin would play.
Over at FanGraphs, Martin is ranked as the No. 49 prospect in baseball. Their most recent Top-100 list had Nate Pearson at No. 8, meaning their next update could have Martin as the second-best prospect in Toronto’s system behind Pearson.
Here’s a thread of highlights from Martin playing at Vanderbilt…
As is the case when any Vanderbilt player gets drafted, fans are starting to resurface old Austin Martin highlights from @vuhustlersports.
Hopefully this helps, #BlueJays fans.
Some @VandyBoys Austin Martin highlights, a thread: (1/8)
— Simon Gibbs (@SimonGibbs26) June 11, 2020
And here’s his reaction to getting drafted…
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) June 11, 2020
Here’s what Vernon Wells, Toronto’s most-recent fifth-overall pick had to say about the selection…
— Vernon Wells (@VernonWells10) June 11, 2020
MLB Network compared Martin to Mookie Betts, another toolsy player with a great bat who played both second base and centre field…