Jays’ Martin making great strides at 1st spring camp

Former Vandy standout spent last summer in Rochester hub

Austin Martin, Toronto Blue Jays
Austin Martin, here against Pittsburgh on March 1, has settled right in to his first camp with the Jays. Courtesy Toronto Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays were surprised when shortstop Austin Martin’s name was still on the board, as they were due up in the 2020 MLB Draft.

Although pitching was a bigger need for the team going in to last year’s selection process, the young stars talent was to exceptional to look over as Toronto picked him with the fifth overall pick.

Hunter Mense, the minor league hitting coordinator for the Blue Jays, had a chance to work with Martin last summer in the alternative training site at Rochester, N.Y., and understands why the team took him as opposed to more pitching talent.

“I think with Austin you looked at him and said you can’t pass this up,” said Mense, on a Zoom call from the major league camp at Dunedin, Fla. “This kid is such a good player, such a competitor that we’ll figure out a way, and we’ll get him in the system.”

Martin attended Vanderbilt University for three seasons and had an impressive batting slash line of .368/.474/.532 (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage) over 140 games for the team, leading them to a College World Series championship in 2019.

Despite there being a lot of young hitting talent on the Jays already and a potentially loaded roster going into this year, Mense can only draw positives from selecting a young player with this high of ceiling.

“If he pushes his way into the big leagues in a year, then that’s awesome,” said Mense. “Because he’s going to force our hand to figure out with what we want to do with him and what we want to do with other players on the team as well, it’s a good situation and good problem to have.”

Martin’s game has continued to improve since getting drafted last July, even though the training process has been incredibly hard with the limitations placed on all teams during the pandemic and how that cut down on playing time for everyone.

“I’ve watched the kid adapt and grow so fast,” Mense said. “When he first got to Rochester he had no idea he was coming here (to Rochester) and the process for him getting drafted and waiting and signing and not being able to do anything back home, there was no way that he was going to be as prepared for that situation.”

A talking point has been where he will end up playing in the field as he bounced around the diamond in his three years at college.

“I think for us as an organization and for him it’s to continue to try and play shortstop and on the dirt and play on the infield and be really good there,” said the coach. “And if that doesn’t work out and we have to put him somewhere else we know he can adapt wherever we put him.”

About this article

Posted: Mar 11 2021 1:20 pm
Filed under: Baseball NCAA Sports