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Austin Martin is Finishing a Redeeming September


Twins Daily Contributor

Austin Martin’s time in the Twins organization hasn’t gone perfectly. After struggling through most of 2022, he may have finally broken out over the last month.

Image courtesy of Ed Bailey, Wichita Wind Surge

 

Hitting was never supposed to be a problem for Austin Martin. He was widely considered the top college bat in the 2020 MLB Draft after finishing a tremendous three years at Vanderbilt. In three seasons, he hit .368/.474/.532 (1.007) with 43 steals and more walks (85) than strikeouts (82). During his sophomore season, he posted a 1.091 OPS with 33 extra-base hits in 65 games as he helped Vanderbilt win the 2019 College World Series. 

Toronto had to be excited when Martin fell to them with the fifth overall pick in 2020, which will be an intriguing draft to examine in future years. The pandemic wiped out college and high school seasons, so it became challenging to scout players without any games to watch. Martin received the draft’s second-highest signing bonus, but his professional debut had to wait until 2021. 

All three national prospect rankings put Martin in their top-25 prospects entering the 2021 season. The Blue Jays were aggressive with him by sending him directly to Double-A. In his first 56 games, he hit .281/.424/.383 (.807) with 14 extra-base hits and a 53-to-37 strikeout to walk ratio. Minnesota acquired him at the trade deadline as part of the Jose Berrios deal. His OPS dropped to .779, but he collected 11 extra-base hits in 37 games. His prospect stock dropped a little, but he’d still be considered one of baseball’s top-55 prospects entering the 2022 campaign. 

Minnesota sent Martin back to Double-A for the 2022 season, hoping his performance would warrant a move up the organizational ladder. For various reasons, Martin’s performance has struggled in 2022, with a wrist injury weakening his power. His OPS dropped from .796 in 2021 to .685 in 92 games this season. He suffered a wrist injury while diving for a ball at the beginning of July, but he has returned strongly to end the season. 

In September, Martin compiled his best numbers of the season as he hit .277/.392/.431 (.823). His OPS was over 100 points higher than any other month in the season, and two of his three home runs came this month. Martin has been over a year younger than the competition at his level, and over 78% of his at-bats have come against older pitchers. After a bleak season, it helps to end the season on a positive note. 

Martin will get the opportunity to build off his strong September by representing the Twins in the Arizona Fall League. He will be one of the team’s top prospects participating in the AFL this season, and it can be an important opportunity for players closing in on the big leagues. Last season, Matt Wallner headed to the AFL and used it as a springboard for a tremendous 2022 season. Wallner was recently named the Twins Daily Minor League Player of the Year

Next season, Martin will begin the season as a 24-year-old with over 180 games played at the Double-A level. He is no longer considered a top-100 prospect, and many have dropped him out of the top-10 prospects in the Twins organization. He has plenty to prove in 2023, and the Twins hope this September is the beginning of him getting back on track. 

What do you think Martin can prove in the AFL? Is this September a positive sign for the future? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

 

 


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Royce Lewis also went to the AFL with a lot people down on him. Even after he showed that he could also excel at CF & 3B & be the AFL MVP, people were still down on him.

I'm expecting Martin to follow the same road as Lewis & Wallner. Martin's upward trend will continue at AFL. I doubt Martin will start at SS so I expect to see him play CF, 3B or even 2B & do very well there.

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1 month is a good start but we do need more consistency from him.  With the way he’s hit so far major league pitchers won’t walk him as often if he can’t hit at all.  Also with the amount of power he is flashing, he needs to be close to a .300 hitter to have value.  Really a .350 OBP in the majors since he doesn’t have much extra base ability despite his speed.

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The Twins have to figure out where they will be playing Martin. Sure, they can jerk him around the diamond (like the Twins did Cuddyer before settling him into...right field.).

But he only has the few years in minor league system.

Be interesting to see how the Twins end up handling Brooks Lee, a possible similar player.

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I think Martin’s skill set gives him a path to the major leagues. He has good speed, positional flexibility and on-base skills. With all the left handed outfielders the Twins have, there’s a pretty big void in right handed corners who could fill center field. 
 

I don’t know if he’ll be considered as a shortstop, but that he can help in the infield is a bonus. He’ll play next season at 24 years old and the Twins can hope for huge steps forward starting with his time in the AFL. 

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1 hour ago, stringer bell said:

I think Martin’s skill set gives him a path to the major leagues. He has good speed, positional flexibility and on-base skills. With all the left handed outfielders the Twins have, there’s a pretty big void in right handed corners who could fill center field. 
 

I don’t know if he’ll be considered as a shortstop, but that he can help in the infield is a bonus. He’ll play next season at 24 years old and the Twins can hope for huge steps forward starting with his time in the AFL. 

Given Buxton's healthy (and Larnarch and AK), I'd move him to CF right now. He can backup all the OF spots. They don't need more middle infielders at this point (and if they do because CC is gone and Lewis and Gordon and Arraez and Polanco are hurt, the season isn't going to go well anyway).

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At 6' 185lbs, (as he's listed), he may never develop as a 20HR power hitter. But I wouldn't be surprised if HR power develops over time. But with a bunch of doubles, a few triples I'd be fine if he was in the teens. But agree that more power HAS to come unless the BA and OB are well above average or ML pitchers will just dare him to hit.

The hit tool and OB ability appear to be there, even though we haven't seen the big average yet. So I'm still holding out belief he's going to raise his game another level soon, and the AFL could be a big springboard for 2023.

I just don't know about him sticking at SS. I've always believed if there's a chance for someone to play the spot, even on an average basis, you leave him there as long as possible to see. And reports I've seen have him looking better post wrist injury and fewer errors. But with Lewis and Lee and a large group of new SS additions in the past couple of drafts, it just feels to me the time is right for him to move to the OF. Of course, nothing wrong with him being able to be an infield fill-in when needed.

I've heard the FO feels he could transition to the OF almost immediately and be very good there. Maybe it's just time to get the most out of him and could "relax" him in regard to his hitting by making the move. 

Year three is going to be big for him. 

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One thing people need to remember, is he was a high prospect for a reason.  That does not mean he will have success, but many gave up on Nick Gordon in the organization.  Many fans wanted him cut or traded coming into the year.  They were calling him a bust.  He is now 26 and his numbers are very similar a Jose Miranda, who people are all over saying he is amazing, he is 24.  Aside from a few more HR for Miranda the numbers are nearly the same. 

That being said, Martin had a down year, Gordon would have several down years.  We talked for years Gordon needed to add to power, and kept repeating levels.  Now, Gordon had reasons he never built up the muscle to add to the power, until now, but point is, still a little early for some to give up on Martin. 

Will he be a superstar, maybe maybe not, but he is 24, and next season will be a big season for him to see where he falls in the pecking order, but since he came back from his wrist injury he is back to what he was doing last year.  Hopefully he can an minimum develop some power, but look at Arraez, he was an OBP guy, with little power, but he develop some this year as well.  

Hopefully AFL, and normal spring training will help Martin develop and can push his way into the lineup.  He will have his work cut out, being Lewis should be back, Gordon has shown value, Miranda has shown value, and Lee may have leapfrogged him.  However, if he can play CF on defense and can get on base at high clip he will have value when Buck gets hurt next year. 

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16 hours ago, Mike Sixel said:

Given Buxton's healthy (and Larnarch and AK), I'd move him to CF right now. He can backup all the OF spots. They don't need more middle infielders at this point (and if they do because CC is gone and Lewis and Gordon and Arraez and Polanco are hurt, the season isn't going to go well anyway).

I was thinking the same thing. Even if he isn't ready for the everyday SS position, it cannot hurt him 🤞to play some CF. He might end up being one of the best utility players we have on the team outside of Gordon. Also, him moving to the OF might help save some wrist injuries as he more than likely won't be getting the ball as much. Plus we don't have too many RH batters for the OF. And if he does transition to CF, lack of power won't be much of an issue as long as his defense can play and he can consistently get on base. 

On top of that we have a plethora of IF ready to play in Arraez, Lee, Miranda, Julien, Polanco, Lewis, Urshela, and super utility Gordon ready to step up and go. 

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1 hour ago, GNess said:

Celestino has played a lot as a 4th OF type. Martin is likely a big upgrade over Celestino at minimum. 

I don’t know how big of an upgrade he might be. He does seem to offer more speed and base running. His numbers don’t show it, but his skill set would seem to also indicate more OBP skills. 

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On 9/27/2022 at 12:03 PM, Doctor Gast said:

Royce Lewis also went to the AFL with a lot people down on him. Even after he showed that he could also excel at CF & 3B & be the AFL MVP, people were still down on him.

I'm expecting Martin to follow the same road as Lewis & Wallner. Martin's upward trend will continue at AFL. I doubt Martin will start at SS so I expect to see him play CF, 3B or even 2B & do very well there.

Royce Lewis at least hit a dozen HR the year everyone was down on him. Martin only managed to get 2 over the fence this year. And he only hit 5 last year. 

Sorry, I just can't get excited about a guy who's ceiling is Luis Arraez, as most guys don't hit their ceilings. He might end up being a usable player, but he'll almost certainly be someone the team is always looking to upgrade from.

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6 minutes ago, nicksaviking said:

Sorry, I just can't get excited about a guy who's ceiling is Luis Arraez. And most guys don't hit their ceilings. He might end up being a usable player, but he'll almost certainly be someone the team is always looking to upgrade from.

Austin Martin has a lot better foot speed than Arraez. I like the Nick Gordon comp. Both highly rated draft picks who can't quite handle SS at the big league level.

Quote

Martin is likely a big upgrade over Celestino at minimum.

Maybe Martin can hit the cutoff on a relay. I don't think Celestino has hit his ceiling yet. He makes a lot of rookie mistakes.

I doubt we see Martin debut until September 2023. He won't be on the 40 man roster this offseason.

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I think Martin has been mishandled, was not ready for AA when Blue Jays had him there. Should have at least put at high A and let him have some success before moving up. Too much pressure to produce power, he is not built for power. Need a RH OF, Garlick cannot stay healthy-time to move on from him. Celestino has had some moments but hitting wise looks like a 4th/5th OF and can only play OF. Can see Martin as RH version of Gordon, able to play multiple positions IF and OF. Let Martin be who he is hitting wise, high OBP, SB threat, occasional power.

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44 minutes ago, DJL44 said:

Austin Martin has a lot better foot speed than Arraez. I like the Nick Gordon comp. Both highly rated draft picks who can't quite handle SS at the big league level.

Maybe Martin can hit the cutoff on a relay. I don't think Celestino has hit his ceiling yet. He makes a lot of rookie mistakes.

I doubt we see Martin debut until September 2023. He won't be on the 40 man roster this offseason.

Footspeed doesn't mean a ton with this team. 

And I know everyone is on board with better defensive players right now, but it always seems more important in theory than in practice. A good defensive player who's only putting up an OPS of .700 starts hearing the grumblings of discontent by the end of May when there's another option sitting in AAA who looks capable of topping .800.

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If anyone else lives in the Phoenix area, East Valley specifically, and wants to meet up for a Glendale Desert Dogs game or two at Scottsdale, Salt River, or Sloan Stadiums, please message me.

I try to get to a few games every year and love to do it with fellow Twins fans.

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I'm not high on moving him to the outfield.  I would like an outfielder, even a 4th outfielder to have more power.  I would be interested in what type of player he could be as a 2nd baseman.  Polanco has been breaking down and may be time to move from him in the near future.  They lose some power but if he figures out the OBP and Average piece of hitting in the next 9 months it would be nice to have a right side of the infield (assuming Arraez sticks as primary 1st baseman) hitting .300+ with a .350-.375 OBP with lots of Extra base hits.  

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1 hour ago, nicksaviking said:

Footspeed doesn't mean a ton with this team. 

And I know everyone is on board with better defensive players right now, but it always seems more important in theory than in practice. A good defensive player who's only putting up an OPS of .700 starts hearing the grumblings of discontent by the end of May when there's another option sitting in AAA who looks capable of topping .800.

It is simple reality; defense prevents runs, you do not stop the opposing teams runs withpoor fielding, your bat is not going to save the day.

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4 minutes ago, RpR said:

It is simple reality; defense prevents runs, you do not stop the opposing teams runs withpoor fielding, your bat is not going to save the day.

It is simple, and you are 100% wrong. Your bat can save the day even if the fielding is bad. Your glove can't save the day if you don't score runs. No team has ever won a game with zero runs. Never. Offensive is > defense and it really isn't even disputable. A team full of Babe Ruths will beat a team full of Omar Vizquels 90% of the time.

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14 minutes ago, Loosey said:

I'm not high on moving him to the outfield.  I would like an outfielder, even a 4th outfielder to have more power.  I would be interested in what type of player he could be as a 2nd baseman.  Polanco has been breaking down and may be time to move from him in the near future.  They lose some power but if he figures out the OBP and Average piece of hitting in the next 9 months it would be nice to have a right side of the infield (assuming Arraez sticks as primary 1st baseman) hitting .300+ with a .350-.375 OBP with lots of Extra base hits.  

I don’t assume Arraez will be the principal first baseman next year. Miranda and Kirilloff would be preferred options to Arraez at first and I maintain Arraez is quite satisfactory at second. 

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Why can't we just get a rookie pair like Braves right-hander Spencer Strider and center fielder Michael Harris II? We just have to lament our top prospect's short comings and make hopeful excuses. Strider (23 all season 4th round 2020, Clemson) and Harris (21, 3rd round 2019, high school) didn't seem to suffer development because of the Pandemic as is our writers common fallback. They were both there for Falvey (and all the rest of the teams - ha - beat you to it). And the Braves had no problem moving Strider to the starting rotation (like Duran desires) even as he was a certified weapon in the pen when they could improve their starting rotation and team. Those guys are "young", not 24 and 26 year olds that our writers and fans like to call young.

Oh well. We got Martin to still hope about, and one good month in AA ball in 2022 after repeating another year in AA ball. Maybe see him in a couple of years? Maybe?

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1 hour ago, nicksaviking said:

It is simple, and you are 100% wrong. Your bat can save the day even if the fielding is bad. Your glove can't save the day if you don't score runs. No team has ever won a game with zero runs. Never. Offensive is > defense and it really isn't even disputable. A team full of Babe Ruths will beat a team full of Omar Vizquels 90% of the time.

Oakland A's defeated the Twins in a inning without a hit, Twins fielding errors scored the runs, SO, you are wrong.

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A hot finish is nice, but I don't think Martin is that good of a prospect now that we've got a larger sample size on him. He's supposedly a bat-first prospect who will mostly slap singles and draw walks, and defensively can't handle SS despite being given every chance to stick there... so he'll probably play in the outfield and have the speed for it, but his inexperience there could make it a slower transition.

Maybe I'm just getting jaded, but I can't say I have any confidence here. We talked last year about how hot Celestino finished the year in the minors despite a very poor first 4 months, and now he's sporting a .620 OPS in the majors.

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10 hours ago, Trov said:

One thing people need to remember, is he was a high prospect for a reason.  That does not mean he will have success, but many gave up on Nick Gordon in the organization.  Many fans wanted him cut or traded coming into the year.  They were calling him a bust.  He is now 26 and his numbers are very similar a Jose Miranda, who people are all over saying he is amazing, he is 24.  Aside from a few more HR for Miranda the numbers are nearly the same. 

That being said, Martin had a down year, Gordon would have several down years.  We talked for years Gordon needed to add to power, and kept repeating levels.  Now, Gordon had reasons he never built up the muscle to add to the power, until now, but point is, still a little early for some to give up on Martin. 

Will he be a superstar, maybe maybe not, but he is 24, and next season will be a big season for him to see where he falls in the pecking order, but since he came back from his wrist injury he is back to what he was doing last year.  Hopefully he can an minimum develop some power, but look at Arraez, he was an OBP guy, with little power, but he develop some this year as well.  

Hopefully AFL, and normal spring training will help Martin develop and can push his way into the lineup.  He will have his work cut out, being Lewis should be back, Gordon has shown value, Miranda has shown value, and Lee may have leapfrogged him.  However, if he can play CF on defense and can get on base at high clip he will have value when Buck gets hurt next year. 

The fact that we're using Gordon as a comp at all is pretty damning no? 

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