The first round of the 2015 MLB Draft was always going to be known for its shortstops. There was no way around that matter of fact, after the top three picks of the draft all entered pro ball at the position. Dansby Swanson, Alex Bregman and Brendan Rodgers (more on the latter here) rightfully stepped into the spotlight as the first, second and third overall picks, respectively.
In addition to the first three selections, five more shortstops were selected in 2015’s first round —42 picks— all with the promise that comes from being a first-rounder in a draft that consists of well over a thousand players.
At 10th overall, Cornelius Randolph immediately moved to the outfield with the Phillies. 19th overall pick and former Arizona Wildcat Kevin Newman is succeeding at Triple-A for the Pirates. 30th overall pick Kyle Holder stalls at High-A for the Yankees after a strong AFL performance. Ryan Mountcastle has moved to third base for the Orioles, and is one of their top prospects.
The University of Florida Gator star entered the minor leagues with an established glove at the important defensive position of short. Like Holder, his bat on the other hand, would require patience.
Well, here we are in year four of his young career, and the 23-year old has picked 2018 to breakout.
2017 could have been that year, but injury problems kept Martin from seeing it through. On top of that, Oakland added Jorge Mateo and Sheldon Neuse via trades and some more drafted infielders like Nick Allen and Kevin Merrell had passed Martin by on the system depth chart.
Overlooked from the go due to his soft hitting profile, Martin is healthy in 2018 and emphatically making up for lost time.
The A’s have tried to get him to Double-A for three seasons now, pushing him to Midland with the RockHounds at the end of the 2016 season to help the Hounds win their third straight Texas League Championship. (In 2017, they won their fourth straight title.)
The plan in 2017 was to get him there for good, but a knee injury early in the season halted his progress. Making matters worse, a stray hit by pitch broke his nose at the end of May.
He never got it going in 86 games for Midland, but did steal 12 bases and played shortstop to his usual capabilities.
Thankfully, the switch has been flipped this season. Martin is healthy...and raking. Through the season’s first 43 games, he’s hitting .327 —61 points higher than his previous full-season best, set last year in High-A Stockton— with a .399 OBP and a .481 OBP, that number also career-high by 98 digits.
Drafted out of college, Martin was still just 20 when selected. He doesn’t turn 24 until the end of December and all things considered, is on schedule. A year ago, that didn’t seem possible. Now, he’s re-establishing himself as one of Oakland’s best prospects, and is not to be forgotten around the league either.