Austin Martin is arguably the best draft-eligible prospect in the 2020 MLB draft class. The junior out of Jacksonville, FL, started for Vanderbilt as a freshman back in 2018 and immediately put himself in position to be drafted early on in this year’s draft. As a sophomore at Vandy, Martin was the starting third baseman for an eventual College World Series championship. Martin hit .410/.503/.619/1.122 as a sophomore and somehow improved on that line early on in his 2020 campaign, hitting .362/.508/.660/1.168 with a 15.87% walk rate and *1.59%* strikeout rate as of March 6th.
Perhaps the only reason that Martin has any competition for the #1 overall pick in June revolves around the lack of power that he has hit for so far in his college career, and the immense power that Spencer Torkelson has. Martin hit just eight home runs last year and doesn’t show off the raw power you’d typically want from a college hitter with the #1 overall pick. He did however hit 19 doubles and 4 triples, and with a potentially plus-plus hit tool like Martin has, he should be able to hit a bunch of doubles at the big league level and could eventually grow into more home run power as he gets older, much like Whit Merrifield did for the Royals.
Defensively, there’s a pretty big gap between Martin and the rest of the players that are in the conversation for the first overall pick in June. Martin was as sure-handed as they come at the hot corner for Vanderbilt in 2019, showing off enough tools that scouts were confident he’d transition smoothly to SS in 2020. Instead, Vanderbilt has been deploying Martin in CF on a regular basis and he has shown out at times, making great catches and throwing runners out on the bases in his first extended look in the outfield.
The elite-caliber defense that Martin has flashed in his time at Vanderbilt could be the deciding factor for Detroit with the #1 overall selection in June. Nick Gonzales appears to handle 2B well, but he’s probably a 2B only. Spencer Torkelson is a first baseman. The college arms appear to be a half step behind the bats at the moment. If you think Martin’s bat is capable of flashing more power as he continues to grow, and you want a safety net on the defensive side of the ball, Austin Martin is the guy. He is my personal favorite prospect in this draft, and though I have a feeling that Spencer Torkelson will be the number one overall pick for his immense power, Martin is the best do-it-all prospect in this draft.
Photo from NCAA.com