Austin Martin Keeps Things Simple
Austin Martin makes a point of going to the plate with a clear mind and a singular focus in his approach.
“Hitting is complicated enough as it is, so I try to simplify everything,” said the 2020 first-round pick from Vanderbilt. “When I’m in the box, I’m looking for a fastball and if you hang a breaking ball, I’m going to hit it. That’s really it. There’s no certain zone that I’m looking for."
To this point, the 21-year-old 6-foot, 185-pound Martin has ridden that mindset to great success, with his collegiate performance earning him widespread recognition as one of the top hitters in the 2020 draft.
The Blue Jays were both surprised and elated when Martin got to them at No. 5 overall, because he appeared destined to end up with the Orioles at No. 2. But when Baltimore decided to spread their bonus pool around, Blue Jays first-year scouting director Shane Farrell didn’t shy away from grabbing Martin and delivering a club-record bonus of $7,000,825.
While Martin was drafted as a shortstop, he played around the diamond at Vanderbilt, including mostly in center field in 2020. The Blue Jays started him out at third base, the position he took most often during his three years with the Commodores.
“I have no preference,” Martin says. “I just want to play baseball.”
By adding him to their 60-man player pool and inviting him to summer camp, the Blue Jays allowed him to do just that.
Martin was subsequently assigned to the club’s alternate training site in Rochester, N.Y., building toward a big league arrival that appears to be relatively near on the horizon. A pathway to third was opened when the club moved Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to first base, and Martin’s high-contact profile is something the young lineup needs.
Among his many impressive college stats, Martin's career 85 walks to 82 strikeouts is one that sticks out.
“There are no adjustments,” Martin said. “Of course I expand the zone a little bit because I try to protect and fight, but I don’t really think too much or try to make adjustments."
—The Blue Jays included a handful of their top prospects—Jordan Groshans, Simeon Woods Richardson, Alek Manoah, Alejandro Kirk, Riley Adams and Martin—in their 60-man player pool to give them all a chance to get some higher-level development this season.
“They got to see what the big leagues are like,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said.
— The limbo the Blue Jays faced in locking down a regular season home after the Canadian government rejected a modified cohort quarantine plan for Rogers Centre made the club’s alternate training site plans bounce around a fair bit. Under one scenario, players would have remained in Canada, but instead players moved from Toronto to Buffalo, and then to Rochester when Buffalo was settled on as the big league club’s temporary home.