Over the last 12 months, the Oakland A's traded away their two top shortstop prospects: 2012 draft picks Addison Russell and Daniel Robertson. Oakland has re-stocked at that position, first acquiring shortstop prospect Franklin Barreto from Toronto this off-season and then drafting Florida shortstop Richie Martin. Martin, a polished collegiate player, will join Barreto and Yairo Munoz and Chad Pinder as top up-the-middle prospects in the A's system.
Martin is a junior at Florida and is part of a Gators team that will head to Omaha for the College World Series later this week. He won't turn 21 until December, making him one of the youngest college juniors eligible for this year's draft.
Martin has always had tools that scouts have loved. Coming out of high school, Martin was well regarded for his athleticism and his ability to be a top-of-the-order bat and a solid glove at short. During his first two years at Florida, Martin was a glove-first player, but he had a strong showing at the plate in the Cape Cod League last summer and finished his best season in college with the Gators this year. He hit .292 with a .404 OBP and 20 stolen bases this season. Martin also impressed with the glove.
Our Florida sister site spoke with Martin about the improvements that he made this season in this story: http://www.scout.com/college/florida/story/1507168-unlikely-method-spurs-martin-s-breakout?s=304.
SCOUT MLB Draft Analyst Jeff Ellis ranked Martin as the 51st-best overall MLB Draft talent, but Ellis also noted that shortstops were moving up the board in the draft. The first three overall picks in this draft were shortstops and the Pittsburgh Pirates took shortstop Kevin Newman with the pick right before the A's selected Martin. Ellis said this about Martin in his final MLB Draft prospect ranking: "Richie Martin had his best year yet for Florida, but people are still dropping him on their boards. Martin is what he is at short. He is a solid defender with plus speed who should be able to start in the big leagues but might not be more than a second division starter. I think people are upset he hasn’t turned into more, even though what he is, is plenty good. I also need to point out he won’t be 21 till December, so he is a very young player for his class."
What level the A's start Martin when he signs is an interesting question. Pinder is currently the starting shortstop in Double-A, while Barreto is at that spot with High-A Stockton and Munoz is a Midwest League All-Star at short with Low-A Beloit.
Since 2000, the A's have used their top pick on a shortstop now five times. Not including Martin, all of those shortstops have made the major leagues: Bobby Crosby (2001), Cliff Pennington (2005), Grant Green (2009) and Addison Russell (2012).
More on this pick as the night progresses.