Austin Martin Receives Crash Course At Shortstop
Austin Martin played center field and went 3-for-4 with a triple in what turned out to be his final game for Vanderbilt last March 11. He didn’t see anything resembling real action until he showed up for summer camp with the Blue Jays in July.
Even for the fifth overall pick of the 2020 draft, it was quite the jump.
“I’m coming from playing a midweek game against Toledo on Wednesday to my next baseball encounter being against Triple-A (and) big league arms,” Martin said. “It was a little nerve-wracking at first, I'll be completely honest. It's just a different environment. It's something new.
"And when you're in a new environment, it takes a little bit of time to get comfortable . . . It was a good environment. A comfortable environment. All the big league guys were really open and welcoming. It was pretty easy to adjust.”
Back with the Blue Jays this spring after spending the summer at the alternate training site in Rochester, N.Y., Martin was feeling much more comfortable at camp. His path to Toronto became a bit less clear after the club added free agent center fielder George Springer and second baseman Marcus Semien to the lineup.
Those players occupy two of Martin's possible positions in Toronto, though Semien signed only for one year.
How things shake out longer term will be closely watched, and the 22-year-old Martin said the plan for him this year is to continue taking reps at shortstop, a position at which he worked out with coaches Cesar Martin and Danny Solano last year.
The focal points “were pretty simple,” Martin said. “We did footwork (drills) going through the motions of fielding it, trying to put your body in the best position to throw the baseball. It was them explaining to me how to attack the baseball the right way and the most efficient way.”
As long as Martin's bat continues to progress at the same pace—scouts viewed him as the best pure hitter among collegians last year—the Blue Jays will find a spot for him somewhere on the field.
— A surprise addition to Blue Jays camp was righthander Hobie Harris, a 2019 pick in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft. He hit triple digits during a workout before the spring.