The A’s drafted University of Florida shortstop Richie Martin with their first-round pick Monday, looking to replenish a position from which they’ve traded away some of their best young talent.
Martin, the 20th pick overall, was among a strong crop of college shortstops this season, and it marks the fourth time the A’s have taken a shortstop in the first round over the past seven drafts. But the previous three – Grant Green, Addison Russell and Daniel Robertson – have all been traded. Russell and Robertson, both dealt in the past 11 months, were rated Oakland’s No. 1 prospect at the time of their trades.
Martin, 20, was ranked as the No. 31 overall prospect by Baseball America, but that placed him just sixth at his position. The top three overall picks were used on shortstops, then two more went before the A’s grabbed Martin.
He’s hitting .292 with five home runs and 33 RBI in 65 games for Florida, which begins play Saturday in the College World Series. The right-handed hitting junior is leading the team in runs (59), walks and stolen bases (20).
Interesting to note: Martin’s grandfather, Walter Thomas, played in the Negro Leagues and was teammates with Jackie Robinson and Satchel Paige.
Here’s a scouting report from Baseball America on Martin:
Drafted out of high school by the Mariners in the 38th round, Martin is now part of an unusually large crop of college shortstops with a chance to stay at the position as professionals. In the past, Martin has sometimes gotten himself into trouble by trying to do too much in the field. But this year he has done a better job of letting his athleticism take over and is playing the position with ease.
“He has plenty of range, soft hands and enough arm strength, though it doesn't always earn true plus grades. Martin impressed scouts offensively last summer in the Cape Cod League. He set the Bourne record with a .364 batting average, which ranked second only to Kevin Newman (another well-regarded college shortstop). He has shown more power this year and there's probably even more waiting to be unlocked in his lithe 6-foot, 185-pound frame, but his game remains based on getting on base. He sprays line drives to all fields, controls the strike zone and has above-average speed, giving him the profile of a top-of-the-order hitter. Martin is very young for his class and won't turn 21 until December, giving him more projection than most college position players.