The Toronto Blue Jays were “ecstatic” to have Vanderbilt star Austin Martin fall to them at fifth overall, adding maybe the best all-around player in the draft to an exciting young core.
Based on numerous mock drafts, the Vanderbilt star was expected to go as high as the second selection. Some experts even thought he could be tied to the Detroit Tigers as the top selection, but in the end Detroit did what most expected and went with Spencer Torkelson.
Then, the Baltimore Orioles selected outfielder Heston Kjerstad and the Miami Marlins took the first pitcher in the draft, Max Meyer, two picks outside the pre-draft consensus. All of this caused Martin to slip to the fifth selection.
The Blue Jays snatched the short stop who some believe to be the best all around player in the draft. The front office is excited about its newest addition and rightfully so. Blue Jays director of amateur scouting, Shane Farrell, said the club was “a little surprised” Martin was still available and they were obviously “ecstatic” drafting the highly-touted prospect at No. 5.
You can debate the strategy of taking the best player available player vs drafting for need, but Martin is without a doubt one of the best players in this draft class. Keith Law of The Athletic ranked the versatile player at No. 1 on his list of eligible players. Both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline ranked Martin second among all prospects.
The 21-year old from Jacksonville, Flordia, posted a .376/.479/.521 slash line in 118 games at Vanderbilt. Martin isn’t known to be a power hitter, but his keen eye for the strike zone is consistent. He only struck out 82 times in three seasons at the NCAA level, including two strikeouts in the shortened 2020 season.
He’s played first, second, third, and some center field. He was one of the SEC’s best players who helped lead the Commodores to a College World Series title in 2019.
The next thing the Blue Jays will do is formalize an agreement with Martin. His agent is Scott Boras, and Martin might want close to $7.8 million, which was the slot value for the second pick. However, since he fell to the fifth selection, that slot only has $6.1 million allocated to it.
Once that’s complete, there’s no telling what’s next as minor-league ball likely won’t take place this year. With that being said, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about Martin and the Blue Jays’ future.
Whenever Martin’s professional career begins, he could quickly develop through the minor league ranks and join a talented young core in the big leagues. He’s the same age as Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and only a year younger than Bo Bichette. Along with the three of them, there’s Cavan Biggio, Nate Pearson, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
It’s too early to tell where Martin will play in the majors. If he fulfills his potential at the plate, there won’t be an issue finding a spot for him. Martin could play third base, which would mean moving Guerrero Jr. to first base or the team’s designated hitter. Others have said he could move to the outfield with his speed and athleticism if Toronto’s talented infield is too crowded.
Martin joins a pipeline of Vanderbilt alumni who were drafted in the first round. He joins David Price, Walker Buehler, and Dansby Swanson. With the addition to Martin, the Blue Jays offense will be a whole lot of fun to watch in years to come.