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Outfielder Martin's hustle what impresses Astros

The Astros wasted no time going right back to the well, taking a center fielder for a second successive pick by drafting Jason Martin from Orange Lutheran High School (California) on Friday in the eighth round of the First-Year Player Draft.

With his all-out style of play and his short yet well-built physique, Martin is the type of player that fans love. He is an above-average defensive center fielder with solid range and good instincts.

"He's got what we call a very strong profile," said Astros director of amateur scouting Mike Elias. "He's left-handed, can run, hits for average and can defend. That's a leadoff hitter's tool set."

Those instincts helped Martin go error-free during his senior season of high school, when he also flashed speed by swiping eight bases. He is an aggressive baserunner and has great instincts on the basepaths. Some scouts are skeptical of his coverage in center field, but he's certainly quick enough to play in either left or right field while learning the pro game.

At the plate, the Corona, Calif., native has a quick, compact swing and sprays line drives to all fields. More power would be a plus, but sacrificing speed for strength would likely limit his bat speed and defensive range. This spring, he hit .408 with seven RBIs and a .483 on-base percentage while helping his high school team to a 19-8 record in one of California's tougher prep leagues.

Martin's signability isn't a significant question, though he is committed to attend Long Beach State if he doesn't sign. He's also only 17, young by Draft standards.

"He's so young, and we know going in he'll take time to develop," Elias said.

Chris Abshire is an associate reporter for

Houston Astros