Last Wednesday, the Toronto Blue Jays selected Vanderbilt star Austin Martin with the 5th overall selection in the 2020 Amateur Draft. While he has not put pen to paper just yet, one cannot help but question where he fits into the Blue Jays’ long term plans.
Austin Martin was not supposed to be available at the 5th overall spot. With the Baltimore Orioles making a ballsy move at #2, Toronto Blue Jays fans waited with anticipation over who may just be available when the team’s #5 selection was on the clock.
Low and behold, the Marlins and Royals went to strengthen their rotation, leaving one of the best hitters in the entire draft available for the Blue Jays, a selection they made quite easily.
Born in DeLand, Florida, Martin spent the past three years at Vanderbilt University, splitting time between third base, second base, and center field. During those three years, Martin would compile an impressive 368/.474/.532 slash line with 39 doubles, 14 home runs, and 76 RBI.
Dubbed one of the best hitters on the 2020 draft, Martin has an excellent quick swing that puts the ball in play across the diamond. While his strength/power is average at best, Martin does have enough pop in the bat and speed on the basepaths to be an extra-base machine. He began the past season at third base but scouts seem to think he would be more suitable either playing in the outfield or second base given his speed and arm power.
This brings up a good question: where does Austin Martin fit into the Toronto Blue Jays plans?
The easiest answer off the board would be to throw him into center field. He does have some experience defensively at the position, and his arm has enough power that he won’t be a liability when a ball is hit his way. The Toronto Blue Jays also lack talented depth in the position, so Martin would be filling a larger area on the active roster.
If the Blue Jays decide to keep Martin at third base, that would mean a move across the diamond for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. This could bode well for the Blue Jays, as many scouts project a switch to first base is in Guerrero’s future anyway, and having Martin’s athleticism at the hot corner could keep some balls from reaching the left field.
Another option is to see him play at second base, which would mean Cavan Biggio would move towards a more utility role or possibly in the outfield as well. I don’t see this option being the best case scenario, given that Biggio’s on-base percentage and left-handed bat in the lineup is not something I would take away.
Could Biggio be penciled into the DH role? Sure, but I feel like his defense is on par and that various other options could be utilized to keep Biggio and Martin on the field, while also having a power bat in the DH spot.
The last option could see Bo Bichette move to second base and Martin take over shortstop. This seems least plausible given Bichette handled the position well last year and Martin has not had any real experience at the position over the past three years. Stranger things have happened, but I just don’t see Bo moving anytime soon.
Regardless of what the Blue Jays choose to do with Austin Martin, all will be for nothing if the two sides cannot reach an accord. That being said, there are currently no bad signs coming from Scott Boras represented player, so the possibility Martin ends up becoming a Blue Jay is becoming more real with every day.