The Blue Jays plan to add No. 5 overall draft pick Austin Martin to their 60-man player pool, per Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith. He’ll first need to pass through intake testing for COVID-19 before he’s able to join the club in Canada. Martin is hoping to be in Toronto this weekend, tweets TSN’s Scott Mitchell.
As polished a hitter as Martin is, it seems unlikely that he’d actually be considered as a Major League option in 2020. Still, getting in some work with the Jays coaching staff and the team’s growing young core makes plenty of sense from a developmental standpoint. Martin revealed not long after being drafted that he and Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette played on the same team when they were younger, so his arrival in Jays camp will bring about a reunion for the childhood teammates.
Martin’s ultimate position on the diamond is yet to be determined. He played all over the field at Vanderbilt, with extensive time at third base and second base. Scouting reports on him leading up to the draft also suggested that he’s equipped to handle center field at the big league level. The Jays have Bichette at shortstop and Cavan Biggio penciled in at second base, although Biggio has worked in the outfield as well. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. currently lines up at third base, but many expect him to eventually move to first base and designated hitter. That could pave a path for Martin or perhaps fellow top prospect Jordan Groshans at the hot corner. Further down the pipeline, Orelvis Martinez is quite well-regarded as an infield prospect himself, though he’s yet to play above Rookie ball.
Suffice it to say, the Jays have amassed an impressive stockpile of exciting young position players. Even if Martin won’t be expected to step into the lineup alongside Bichette, Guerrero, Biggio and others in 2020, he could still force his way into the picture in relatively quick fashion. The 21-year-old logged a .368/.474/.532 slash in his NCAA career — including a ridiculous .392/.486/.604 line in 2019 and an even better .377/.507/.660 line in 69 plate appearances before the 2020 season was shut down. Baseball America already lists Martin as the No. 16 prospect in all of baseball.
The Jays initially announced 58 players in their pool, but they’ve also had several positive COVID-19 tests, leading to several placements on the COVID-19 injured list. Such players don’t count against the player pool until they’re medically cleared to return to the team. The Jays already added four new players to their pool. It’s possible that at some point, the Jays will be over the limit and need to jettison a player via release, outright waivers, trade, etc. — but for the time being it seems they have the space to add Martin to the Summer Camp roster.