Name-RUSSELL NATHAN MARTIN, ,JR.
DOB- Feb. 15, 1983
04 Club- Vero Beach (high A)
In the spring of 2002, scout Clarence Johns was watching a Chipola (Fla.) Junior College practice when he observed an infielder volunteering to catch in a drill. Liking his actions, he recommended his being drafted which he was in the 17th round.
Because of a need for infielders with the Gulf Coast Dodgers, where Russell Martin was assigned, he remained playing there. However, in the fall instructional league, his conversion to back of the plate began. It's been a study in progress ever since.
Martin began 2003 at South Georgia (South Atlantic) but was sent down to Ogden (Pioneer) so he could catch every day. He steadily improved his skills, then honed them even more this past season first at Vero Beach, then in the Arizona Fall League.
Once bothered by pitches in the dirt, he seems to have mastered those, has excellent footwork and calls an intelligent game. His main asset is his arm. With a quick release, he powers down even the swiftest of base runners.
His batting averages have dwindled over his three season -- .286, .271, .250 -- due in part to his concentration on the defensive aspect of his game. But he has a quick stroke and has developed some loft, smashing 15 homers in 2004 and has remained a middle of the order guy.
His progress has been so pronounced that he became the catching heir apparent in the system although that status may change with the acquisition of Dioner Navarro.
His prospects remain bright, nonetheless, and he should open 2005 as Jacksonville's everyday catcher.