Today we’re going to kick off the series of taking a look at the top 30 players in the 2020 Major League Baseball Draft according to the rankings at Baseball America. Why Baseball America? Well, for my money they are the best source for this information available on the planet. They have been doing it since long before the internet even existed as we know it today and as such, they are the industry standard. That’s not to say other places aren’t producing quality draft-related content, rankings, lists, or reports – they are. But Baseball America’s at the top for me. The draft has been pushed back this year to “July”, with an exact date still unknown. But every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday we’re going to provide a new report and that will take us to July 1st.

At the top of the Baseball America rankings is Vanderbilt outfielder Austin Martin. He’s only been an outfielder since the start of the 2020 season, though. In the past he had played around the infield for the Commodores, seeing time at first, second, and third base. But this season most of his time – granted he only played 16 games before the season was cancelled – came in center field.

The 2018 Season

As a freshman at Vanderbilt, Austin Martin was a starter on the infield from the beginning of the season. He would play in 59 games and was impressive from an average and approach standpoint. He would hit .338/.452/.414 with 14 doubles and one home run. He would also steal 22 bases in 30 attempts. The power wasn’t there yet, but at the plate he was doing everything else well – walking 35 times with 46 strikeouts in 273 plate appearances.

The 2019 Season

This was the breakout season for Austin Martin. Still playing infield for Vanderbilt, the then 20-year-old exploded, hitting .392/.486/.604 on the season. In his 65 games played he had 19 doubles, four triples, and crushed 10 home runs while stealing 18 bases in 23 attempts. Martin also cut down on his strikeouts, going from 46 in 2018 to 34 in 2019 despite having 50 more plate appearances. He would also walk 40 times on the season.

The 2020 Season

After busting out in 2019, he entered his junior season on the radar of everyone. The now 21-year-old was out to an incredible start to the season. Through the 16 games that he did get to play on the year he was hitting .377/.507/.660 with 10 walks and just two strikeouts in 69 plate appearances. Austin Martin was picking up extra-base hits at a high rate, already having six doubles and three home runs on the season before things were shut down.

Austin Martin College Stats

Austin Martin Video

Austin Martin Scouting Report

Height: 6′ 0″ | Weight: 170 lbs

Bats: Right | Throws: Right

Position(s): Center Field/Second Base/Third Base

When it comes to tools, Austin Martin is a guy that has all five of them. His hit tool is a notch above the rest, showing above-average to plus depending on exactly who it is that you talk to. The rest of his tools grade out as average to slightly above-average, giving him a well-rounded game to work with.

He sticks out as an athlete with a very quick bat, good hands, and good speed. His bat speed combined with his understanding of the strikezone and good pitch recognition skills are what allow his hit tool to grade out so well and put it at the top of the draft in that particular category. While he’s played around the field in his career, most scouts think he’ll handle center field well as a professional and some think there’s a chance he could also handle shortstop if given the opportunity to play there regularly. Second or third base would also be easy “fallback” positions for him.

Where the concern could be

It’s tough to truly lay a concerning issue in the game for Austin Martin. But if you had to nitpick something it would probably be that he really only shows one standout tool – the hit tool. There’s nothing wrong with that, but from a raw tools perspective he doesn’t stand out from the field of other first rounders at all. He does have a much higher floor with his tools than just about everyone else, though, given their current state.

6 Responses

  1. Adam

    It would be nice to get a Ausin Martin in the first round…….Make sure to tip your waitress I am here till 8

  2. kyblu50

    I know that this is off topic but won’t all major teams have the same amount of minor league teams? AAA-AA-High A-A

    Contraction of minor league teams seems to be on the way, but the Cubs won’t be among the franchises affected, Gordon Wittenmyer of NBC Sports Chicago details. They’re not in position to lose any of their affiliates.

    Does this mean that not all teams are equal?

    • Doug Gray

      Every organization will have a complex level rookie team, a Low-A team, an Advanced-A team, a Double-A team, and a Triple-A team.

      The short season rookie ball leagues are going to disappear. Almost all, but not every team in those leagues will cease to exist in affiliated ball. Several may be moving up to new leagues (likely A-ball), while a few full season teams will be losing their affiliated baseball status.

      But I would expect a lot of teams to have a lot of new affiliates when minor league baseball returns. As far as I know only one team in the minor leagues has a true player development contract for 2021 – the Durham Bulls with the Tampa Bay Rays. That’s it. Every other team in minor league baseball has a contract that expires after 2020, and there’s a reason for that. Minor League Baseball has asked them to not renew, as a way to try and hold some power (it hasn’t worked since this whole pandemic has happened and changed everything). But also, the MLB plan is to create new leagues with the idea to have lesser travel involved, which is going to mean new teams in new leagues at new levels, and until teams know which teams are at which levels, they can’t exactly go out and find new affiliates because you need one per level.

    • BK

      Interesting article. Like the Reds, the Cubs have long-standing affiliations with two teams that are nearby and support a regional fan base: Iowa (AAA) and South Bend (A). The author identified South Bend (owner is a part owner of Cubs) as a team that may move up as it is a model franchise. Louisville and Dayton provide similar synergy for the Reds.