The Blue Jays reach a handle first-round pick Austin Martin, reports Sportsnet’s Hazel Mae (Twitter link). The former Vanderbilt shortstop/third baseman should pass a physical before his cope with the club becomes official. Bonus details aren’t yet known, but Martin’s No. 5 over all draft slot is valued at $6.18MM.
Considered by some to function as the best all-around player in this year’s draft, Martin went hook bit later than was generally expected after the O’s cut a deal with No. 2 pick Keston Hjerstad, thus saving some pool space for harder signs further later on. The Marlins and Royals opted for pitchers with the following two selections, suddenly leaving a player who at times was in the conversation at No. 1 overall for the Jays to scoop up at No. 5.
Martin doesn’t have the massive power that top pick Spencer Torkelson possesses, but he’s a left-side infielder or center field option, giving him more defensive value. And he’s still a high-end offensive prospect in his or her own right. MLB.com gives Martin a hearty 65-grade hit tool and 50-grade (solid-average) power, while FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen gives him a 60 future hit tool and 55 power.
Martin’s natural hitting ability was on display for all to see through the duration of his NCAA career, as he posted video-game-esque numbers dating back to his freshman season. In all, his Commodores career comes to a detailed with a ridiculous .376/.479/.521 batting line. He also struck out in less than 10 per cent of his plate appearances between his sophomore and junior seasons.
The Athletic’s Keith Law ranked Martin because the best all-around prospect in this year’s draft “due to his combination of performance, athleticism and all-around quickness.” Baseball America, MLB.com and ESPN all ranked him behind Torkelson only, while FanGraphs had him third behind Torkelson and eventual No. 4 pick Asa Lacy (a lefty out of Texas A&M).
There’s some debate regarding Martin’s final position, but it’s maybe not for not enough defensive aptitude. Rather, most scouts appear to think that he could handle any of third base, 2nd base or center field, with shortstop not entirely out of the question. Toronto hopes to possess Bo Bichette installed there for years ahead, of course, so perhaps one of many other spots on the field is likelier. Regardless, the consensus on Martin is he possesses elite bat-to-ball skills with still-developing power, speed, raw athleticism and an extensive range of potential defensive domiciles. For a Jays club that saw Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio all graduate to the Majors recently, with Nate Pearson sure to follow in 2020, Martin represents another potential core piece to create the club back to prominence in the ever-competitive AL East.