- Full name Russell Nathan Coltrane Martin
- Born 02/15/1983 in East York, ON, Canada
- Profile Ht.: 5'10" / Wt.: 215 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Chipola Junior College
- Debut 05/05/2006
- Drafted in the 17th round (511th overall) by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2002.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Area scout Clarence Johns (now with the Rockies) scouted Martin as a third baseman and immediately projected him to catch. Martin has become one of the best catching prospects in the game, thanks to his athleticism and ability to absorb instruction. Martin employs a patient approach at the plate and uses the entire field. His swing is compact and simple, he stays through the ball well and he's a good situational hitter. He's comfortable behind the plate and his blocking and receiving skills are advanced for such an inexperienced catcher. He has a strong, accurate arm, good footwork and an efficient exchange on throws. Martin has yet to show much power, though he can drive balls out of the park when he stays back. Some scouts believe he'll be a 15-20 homer threat in time. He has slightly below-average speed, but he's fast for a catcher and isn't afraid to take an extra base. Martin is similar to former Dodgers catcher Paul LoDuca, with better defensive skills and slightly less offensive ability. He'll probably begin 2006 in Triple-A but could reach Los Angeles in the second half.
Outside of Joel Guzman, Martin made the most significant leap in the system last year. A 35th-round pick by the Expos out of Montreal ABC baseball academy in 2000, he played two years at Chipola Junior College before signing with the Dodgers for $40,000. He moved from third base to catcher in 2003. Martin made strides in his defensive game last year. He's quick, uses his excellent footwork to help him block balls in the dirt and has a well-above-average arm. Offensively, he has a line-drive stroke, good plate discipline and the potential to hit 15-20 homers annually. He's durable, works hard and has a strong makeup. Martin's swing can get long at times. He needs to maintain his focus throughout games on his receiving, but more than anything else he requires more experience behind the plate. He's a below-average runner, though not a baseclogger. After taking a step forward in the Arizona Fall League, Martin will open the season in Double-A. He has no challenger as the Dodgers' catcher of the future and may be ready for the majors by September 2006.
Martin led the Canadian junior national team with a .414 average and two home runs in 29 at-bats at the 2000 World Junior Championship. Drafted as a third baseman, that's where he spent his first summer in pro ball, but the Dodgers shifted him behind the plate in instructional league 2002 at the suggestion of area scout Clarence Johns. Martin's athleticism, soft hands and well above-average arm strength originally prompted his conversion. Under the tutelage of minor league catching instructor Jon Debus, Martin has made tremendous strides receiving and blocking balls. He still lacks polish, as indicated by his 27 passed balls and 23 percent success rate throwing out basestealers in the Rookie-level Pioneer League. The Dodgers love the Canadian's hockey mentality and believe it has helped him with the transition. At the plate, Martin has a fluid line-drive stroke with raw power potential. He needs to stay behind the ball more consistently, though, as he tends to get overly pull-conscious. He has done an excellent job thus far of controlling the strike zone. The Dodgers plan on keeping Martin and fellow catching conversion prospect Mike Nixon at separate levels. They'll compete for a chance to move up to high Class A in 2004.
Minor League Top Prospects
With McCann in Atlanta, Martin might be the best catcher left in the minors. Converted from third base in 2003, he has the complete package, right down to his ability to steal an occasional base. His strike-zone judgment is exquisite, and he hits for average to all fields with power to the gaps, particularly to right-center. An intense player with strong leadership skills, Martin calls a good game behind the plate, handles pitchers very well and always backs up bases, even late in the game. His catch-and-throw skills are outstanding. He still can get better at blocking balls, but he has made a lot of progress with the help of Suns hitting coach Steve Yeager, who caught in the majors for 15 years.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the National League in 2007
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2006
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2006
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the Southern League in 2005
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the Southern League in 2005
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2005