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Is It Time to Start Worrying About Austin Martin?


Twins Daily Contributor

There were questions surrounding Austin Martin when the Twins acquired him. Many of those questions remain, so is it time to start worrying about Austin Martin?

When the Blue Jays drafted Austin Martin fifth overall, some evaluators considered him the best player in the 2020 MLB Draft. His collegiate career was nothing short of amazing as he hit .368/.474/.532 (1.007). Martin also played multiple positions in college, so there was hope his athleticism would translate to his professional career and make him a versatile player. 

Because of the pandemic, Martin couldn’t make his pro debut until the 2021 season, but this didn’t stop the Blue Jays from being aggressive. Martin debuted in Double-A, where he hit .281/.424/.383 (.807) with 14 extra-base hits before being traded. When Martin joined the Twins organization, his OPS dropped to .779, but he was still getting on base nearly 40% of the time. He’s back in Wichita to start 2022, and he is hitting .244/.375/.321 (.696) through the season’s first 20 games. Martin’s pro career hasn’t lived up to his pre-draft expectations, but he is still over a year younger than the average age of the competition at his level. 

Baseball America updated their top-100 prospect list following the season’s first month, and Austin Martin dropped significantly in their eyes. Here at Twins Daily, the writers also updated their top prospect lists, and Royce Lewis took over the top spot from Martin. It’s clear his stock has dropped, but what are the reasons behind his struggles?

One of Martin’s most significant concerns has been his lack of power since leaving college. In 93 games last season, he combined for 25 extra-base hits. So far in 2022, he has been limited to six doubles in 78 at-bats. On the positive side, he has shown the ability to make contact and use the entire field, but he has over 500 minor league plate appearances, and his power is still absent. 

“We do think there’s some untapped power potential in there,” Twins player development director Alex Hassan said. “We tried to get him to catch the ball a little more out front and be comfortable using the big part of the field and use the pull side a little more.”

Martin dealt with a hand issue last season, which may have been one of the reasons for his lack of power. He also tended to crouch and stride toward the plate, which gave him more coverage but took away from his power. If Minnesota can fix this, he has the potential to unlock more power. 

There are also questions about Martin’s eventual defensive home. In college, he played time at shortstop and third base, but there have been some throwing issues in the past. Since turning pro, he has split time between shortstop and center field. Second base might be his eventual defensive home, and he has made starts at that position during the 2022 campaign. It’s interesting to consider that he has yet to play a pro game at third base, which was the position he played most often in college. However, he’d need to showcase more power if he wanted to move to the hot corner. 

Power is the key to unlocking Martin’s full potential. Luckily, he is only 23-years-old, and there is no reason to rush him through the upper levels of the minors. He’s played fewer than 65 games in the Twins organization, so there is time for him to continue to develop under the tutelage of Minnesota’s coaches. 

Are you worried about Martin’s falling stock? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.  

 


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Verified Member

Not worried at all it’s the first month of the season he has put the ball in play taken walks and found his way on base and then stolen bases. 
Not every hitter need to hit 30 hr and strike out 200 times. 
I like the positional versatility look at how valueable Arraez has been filling in. 
 

i do think the SS experiment needs to end and move him back around the OF and 2B 3B.  
If the power doesn’t come 4 of the 5 tools with great bat to ball skills is still extremely valuable. 

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6 minutes ago, High heat said:

Not worried at all it’s the first month of the season he has put the ball in play taken walks and found his way on base and then stolen bases. 
Not every hitter need to hit 30 hr and strike out 200 times. 
I like the positional versatility look at how valueable Arraez has been filling in. 
 

i do think the SS experiment needs to end and move him back around the OF and 2B 3B.  
If the power doesn’t come 4 of the 5 tools with great bat to ball skills is still extremely valuable. 

Agree 100%. Ideally he not only gets to St. Paul by mid summer, but gets a taste of the bigs this year and a fair shot at making the team next year.

Assuming Correa sticks around, I’m still dreaming of an outfield of Buck, Lewis and Martin - a great mix of speed, defense, power and OBA. Plus, solid flexibility if Buck is out for any reason.

If Correa does leave, Martin will be even more important as a corner OF (most likely LF).

IMHO, he remains a better prospect than Larnach, Centerino, Wallner or Gordon - and nothing against any of them. 

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No worries. The issue always with college players (both pitchers and hitters) is the metal bats. Gotta get used to them, how the ball comes off them, etc. Plus, once you start going up-up-up in the minors, the competition rises, too. You may be hot stuf in your high school or collegiate league, but suddenly you are playing against, for the msot part, people of equal quality.

 

Which is why you have minor leagues, folks.

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I’m slightly worried but I don’t subscribe to the premise he needs to hit with power. Remember Moneyball was based on acquiring a team full of high OBA guys. The runs will flow. He could make an especially good leadoff hitter, getting on base at a .400 clip and setting up guys like Correa and Buxton.

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Community Leader

The only worry I have is how long they'll continue to mess with him as a SS option and how hard they'll push for him to be a power hitter. I worry they try to force him into the "superstar SS" mold and try to get him to be something he isn't for another couple years and then he's 25 and hasn't gone anywhere. I get why they think he can hit for power (he's hit some super impressive HRs over the last couple seasons) and they absolutely should try to get more out of him, but they need to quit with the SS nonsense and not try to get more power out of him for too long. A right handed Arraez with speed and a better glove is still a very useful player. 

To me the power thing is more about his mental approach. A lot like Miranda. Miranda struggled because he could hit everything so swung too much, but once he changed his strategy at the plate he went nuclear in the minors. I think Martin is the kind of guy you should have looking to lift and separate early in the count by having 1 pitch in 1 spot he's looking for and trying to launch on. If he doesn't get it and gets a strike on him dial the swing back a little and expand the selection he's looking for. Then with 2 strikes let him do his slap hitting thing and get on base. The question is how well he can adapt and adjust his swing from the power stroke to the base hit one. Also reminds me of Larnach who they tried turning into a pull happy power guy and got away from his natural left-center swing. He's back to using the whole field and looking good, but doesn't have a HR yet. He showed he can hit mammoth HRs last year and I think if he sits on a pitch early in the count it could lead to him hitting for power early in counts before adjusting to his left-center swing later in the count to maintain a high average. It's all part of developing, though. And it's never linear. And never easy. But I'm not worried about Martin's baseball ability at this point.

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I guess to me the question is what do you mean by worry?  Do you worry he will not be an MLB player?  Do you worry he will not be an all-star?  Do you worry he will not be an MVP? Do you worry he will not be a hall of famer? 

I guess if you expected him to be an MVP candidate year in and year out with gold glove defense at SS then be worried, because it is unlikely he will do that.  If you expect he will be a faster Luis Arraez then do not be worried at all.  If you have super high expectations for Marten then be worried he will not meet them, but if you think he will get on base at a high percentage, steal a good amount of bases, and can play defense somewhere, then I would not be worried at all.  No he will not hit double digit HR but he very well may be able to lead off, steal 40 plus bases, and play adequate defense somewhere, including some time at CF if needed.  If you wanted him to step in and hit 20 plus HR drive in 100 plus RBI every year well look somewhere else. 

I am not worried about Martin being an above average MLB player at all.  I am not worried he will flop and never make the majors.  Maybe he will develop more power but we do not need 20 plus HR from every guy in our line up. Getting on base at the percent he does, with his speed will still play at the MLB level.

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I think they are and or will be working with Martin to get to his power more often especially early in counts or when he has a count advantage.  I am curious if the reason he got off to the slow start was the cold weather or trying to incorporate something new in his swing.  Could be either thing but I agree with the Twins that now is the time to work with him to establish more power. He doesn't need to be added to the 40 man until 2023.

I don't see the Twins adding him and bringing him up this year when they already have Gordon and Arraez in his spots. Granted they are lefties but they also have someone at AAA who can play short and center who has great speed, a good OBP, good power already and bats righty and his name Royce Lewis.  Martin looks buried to me right now.  In fact I think they would would move Steer up before him as he has good plate discipline and power as well.  Might not run quite as well but the power makes up for that.  Steer had Martin's exact issue.  He was more of on base guy not known for power.  He changed his swing and now he has power.  They will work with Martin and see if he can get there too.

I agree he is still valuable without a power stroke but as an Arraez type bat that can also run but IMO the Twins have time and will use it to try and maximize all of his skills before calling him up.

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The Twins need to move away from the bomba squad mentality and take good hitting players and let them be good hitting players instead of trying to make every one of them Sano type strikeout/homerun machines. Maybe thse young players would make it to the majors a lot faster if the Twins wouldn't try to make them into something they aren't. Larnach is a great example. Last year he was trying to pull everything to right-field and into the seats. Who's idea was that? This year he is spraying the ball all over and hitting .300 and helping the team win. Let Martin be a hitter, not a homer, 

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Not worried at all.  Like others have mentioned, just let the kid be an on base machine.  Sometimes that natural thing is the way to go.  There's still value in that.

And if he's not going to stick at SS, then find him a home.  I he's plenty athletic that you can probably stick him anywhere and he'll be just fine, but it'd be nice to let him focus on one position.

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2 hours ago, High heat said:

Not worried at all it’s the first month of the season he has put the ball in play taken walks and found his way on base and then stolen bases. 
Not every hitter need to hit 30 hr and strike out 200 times. 
I like the positional versatility look at how valueable Arraez has been filling in. 
 

i do think the SS experiment needs to end and move him back around the OF and 2B 3B.  
If the power doesn’t come 4 of the 5 tools with great bat to ball skills is still extremely valuable. 

If he's just an unknown in the system, you'd be right to not worry.  But he's a top draft pick who was ranked around 20 on the initial prospect lists.  He's making contact, but his exit velocities have been the lowest of any player on any top 100 list.  Frankly, unless that gets figured out, you don't have anything.  He's not going to be walked in the majors if throwing it down the middle doesn't hurt you.  There's no value there as it stands now.  Super glad you're not worried.

23 at AA is not horrible, but it's also not indicative of a future division 1 player when he's not pounding the ball there.  The Twins need to figure out what's wrong with him, or he's a non-factor in the Berrios trade.  Bringing up his position questions is like questioning troop placements in Hiroshima.

My online baseball group (none of them but me Twins fans) simply think he's no good, and some have held that thought from his college days.  I try to argue something has to be wrong, but it's not a winning argument.

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Lewis has always been #1 in my book but that's not to say that I'm down on Martin. Not at all but I'd focus him more in the OF and not waste his time at SS or even 3B and 2B because he's naturally good at those 2 positions and more needed in the OF. Martin will be invaluable at utility on the verge of super utility (my definition of super utility is being able to play CF & SS adequately). Arraez is an ok utility player not super, not great not even very good but he can get on base.

I go along with the census that we don't have to worry about Martin's bat. He might not be a 20-30 HR hitter but what is for sure is he'll get on base and steal them. To some extent he will develop some power to go with his hitting. I wouldn't think about trading him unless we can get a fantastic offer.

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For those that thought he should be the Twins starting day left fielder I would think there should be a bit of concern for how he has done 2 levels below the majors. For those that said he isn't on the 40 man, so start him in AA, and maybe he makes it to the majors in September shouldn't be that concerned.

I was closer to the second group, so I am not very concerned, yet.

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3 hours ago, chpettit19 said:

The only worry I have is how long they'll continue to mess with him as a SS option and how hard they'll push for him to be a power hitter. I worry they try to force him into the "superstar SS" mold and try to get him to be something he isn't for another couple years and then he's 25 and hasn't gone anywhere. I get why they think he can hit for power (he's hit some super impressive HRs over the last couple seasons) and they absolutely should try to get more out of him, but they need to quit with the SS nonsense and not try to get more power out of him for too long. A right handed Arraez with speed and a better glove is still a very useful player. 

To me the power thing is more about his mental approach. A lot like Miranda. Miranda struggled because he could hit everything so swung too much, but once he changed his strategy at the plate he went nuclear in the minors. I think Martin is the kind of guy you should have looking to lift and separate early in the count by having 1 pitch in 1 spot he's looking for and trying to launch on. If he doesn't get it and gets a strike on him dial the swing back a little and expand the selection he's looking for. Then with 2 strikes let him do his slap hitting thing and get on base. The question is how well he can adapt and adjust his swing from the power stroke to the base hit one. Also reminds me of Larnach who they tried turning into a pull happy power guy and got away from his natural left-center swing. He's back to using the whole field and looking good, but doesn't have a HR yet. He showed he can hit mammoth HRs last year and I think if he sits on a pitch early in the count it could lead to him hitting for power early in counts before adjusting to his left-center swing later in the count to maintain a high average. It's all part of developing, though. And it's never linear. And never easy. But I'm not worried about Martin's baseball ability at this point.

All this.

I can't believe this is another panic headline and article.

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No, because I have not understood the hype.  I am a prove it first fan and he has not earned the ratings and the press he has gotten.  I sincerely hope he succeeds, but like Wander Javier, Cavaco, and other I am not impressed until I see results. 

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Of course I'm worried. I'm very worried he can't hit. His .400 obp is driven by walks. MLB pitchers don't walk guys, let alone guys who can't hit for power. He's 23. Not young for a top prospect. Looks like a glove first utility guy at this point.

Not a great haul for Machina unless the power comes.

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Maybe he's a Denard Span or Jacque Jones type of hitter? Hit 12-18 homers per year, hit .286, play solid defense in the outfield and provide a spark at the top of the lineup? Both of those guys were huge parts of successful Twins teams, valuable players and very successful major leaguers.

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19 hours ago, Nashvilletwin said:

Agree 100%. Ideally he not only gets to St. Paul by mid summer, but gets a taste of the bigs this year and a fair shot at making the team next year.

Assuming Correa sticks around, I’m still dreaming of an outfield of Buck, Lewis and Martin - a great mix of speed, defense, power and OBA. Plus, solid flexibility if Buck is out for any reason.

If Correa does leave, Martin will be even more important as a corner OF (most likely LF).

IMHO, he remains a better prospect than Larnach, Centerino, Wallner or Gordon - and nothing against any of them. 

Larnach has the potential to be a real good hitter…more than the above players.

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Worried? No.  It could just be that maybe he's not as good as all the hype.  Most prospects don't make it.  I'm a results person as well.  Let's wait and see.  After all, the Twins never make mistakes in evaluating prospects.  

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2 hours ago, peterb18 said:

Larnach has the potential to be a real good hitter…more than the above players.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Larnach. I hope he’s a Twin for a long time. I just think Martin is the better overall prospect on the margin. 

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22 hours ago, rv78 said:

The Twins need to move away from the bomba squad mentality and take good hitting players and let them be good hitting players instead of trying to make every one of them Sano type strikeout/homerun machines. Maybe thse young players would make it to the majors a lot faster if the Twins wouldn't try to make them into something they aren't. Larnach is a great example. Last year he was trying to pull everything to right-field and into the seats. Who's idea was that? This year he is spraying the ball all over and hitting .300 and helping the team win. Let Martin be a hitter, not a homer, 

The Twins once fielded a squad with five Hall of Famers on it.  The fielders were Killebrew, Oliva, and Carew, who were three very different types of hitters.  Carew scored 50% more runs than he batted in, It's because he was constantly on base when people like Killebrew and Oliva drove him in.  Takes all types to put together a good team.

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42 minutes ago, Richmond Dude said:

The Twins once fielded a squad with five Hall of Famers on it.  The fielders were Killebrew, Oliva, and Carew, who were three very different types of hitters.  Carew scored 50% more runs than he batted in, It's because he was constantly on base when people like Killebrew and Oliva drove him in.  Takes all types to put together a good team.

Couldn't agree more. I would love to see 5 or 6 high obp hitters sprinkled with 3 or 4 power bats who WILL put the ball in play vs a 30 to 40 homer guy that strikes out 200 times

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For those who were saying he was ready to be in the Opening Day lineup for the Twins (and yes, I saw several people here saying that), that was never going to happen and he needs more time in the minors to work on his game. It's only his second full season in the minors. Find him a home in the outfield and let him focus on raising that batting average, and see if a power spurt comes along. 

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