Scouts All Agree -- Martin Ready for The Show

As August winds down, the speculation about which players the Dodgers might bring up next month when the rosters expand begins. Ask a scout from a rival team and he replies, "The one I think is most ready is Martin."

"Martin" is, of course, catcher Russell who's been plying his trade at Jacksonville through the long hot summer. Of course, that team has some playoff time coming so the Dodgers might delay any call-ups from them until after those take place. Oh, they don't have to but it's likely anyway.

Besides, they already have a rookie receiver in Dioner Navarro. About that, the scout went on to say, " I know they like Navarro and he's not bad but honestly I've seen them both and I don't think there's anything he does that Martin doesn't do better. He (Martin) is much better mechanically behind the plate and he certainly has a better arm. He calls a better game, too. He looks to be better at hitting for that matter."

Said scout is not the only one who likes the chances of the 22-year-old Canadian eventually becoming a fulltime receiver in the big leagues. There were items that he had to work on liking blocking balls in the dirt that he now does exceptionally well. He also possesses a rare field awareness, anticipating plays etc. Although he's completing only his third full season back of the plate, he has steadily forged forward until few if any other who play his position at the minor league level do it with any more aplomb.

The pitchers who throw to him agree. Mike Megrew commented the other day," I consider it a privilege to have had him as my catcher for two seasons (2003 at Ogden, 2004 at Vero Beach. He always seems to be on the same page with your thinking. Sometimes I though we don't even need signals."

Last year, Russell admitted that he was concentrating so much on his defensive duties that he didn't focus at the plate as well as he should. He also was consciously trying to become more of a long ball hitter. The result was that he upped his home run total to 15 but his average fell off to .250.

That hasn't been the case this time. He won't hit as many out (only six at this juncture) but he's pushed his average up to .307 by being far more selective. That approach has also resulted in 70 walks and a .427 on-base percentage. Clearly, he's no "good field, no hit" performer.

Dodger director of amateur scouting Logan White loves to kid him by declaring, "If I had known you were going to turn out to be this good a player, we never would have drafted you in the 17th round (2002)."

Then he was a mildly promising infielder who had turned down the Expos, who had chosen him 35th in 2000, to attend Chipola Junior College in Florida. It was there that then Dodger scout Clarence Johns happened to see him work out back of the plate and ascertain his potential at that post.

When he first began his new role in the 2002 Florida Instructional League, another rival scout who had been following him throughout his amateur career asked, "Why are they making him a catcher? He's too small (5-11, 202). I don't think he belongs there."

With Navarro the every day catcher in L.A., team brass may opt to call up the more experienced Mike Rose in September. But three years into his catching career, it seems to be apparent that where Russell Martin belongs is the big leagues -- and soon.

LA Dodgers Insider Top Stories