MESA, Ariz. -- As part of MLBPipeline.com's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities this month, we will be sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Athletics camp, it was No. 4 prospectRichie Martin.The fifth of seven shortstops selected in the first round of
MESA, Ariz. -- As part of MLBPipeline.com's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities this month, we will be sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Athletics camp, it was No. 4 prospectRichie Martin.
The fifth of seven shortstops selected in the first round of the 2015 Draft, the University of Florida product went 20th overall and signed for $1.95 million. The best defensive infielder in Oakland's system, Martin also flashed some potential as a possible leadoff hitter when he finished second in the Cape Cod League in hitting (.364) in 2014. After spending time in big league camp this spring, he'll likely open his first full pro season in high Class A.
MLBPipeline.com: You secured a non-roster invitation to Major League camp for your first Spring Training. What has that experience been like?
• Bumper crop of infielders are the lifeblood of A's system
Martin: I kind of expected it, but it's still been sort of a surprise being here with all of the big leaguers. You see guys you've watched on TV, and [it's great] to be in their presence and see how they go about their business -- Yonder Alonso, Stephen Vogt, Billy Burns. Stephen is 31, and he's here before 6 [a.m.] and he's the last one to leave. They show you the things you need to do to be successful. Once you get in the games, you realize it's the same game, just better players. The game doesn't change.
MLB Pipeline Spring Training reports
MLBPipeline.com: You were out there at 7:30 this morning working on defense with third-base coach Ron Washington, and you've also worked with special instructor Mark Ellis, a former Gators shortstop. How much have you learned from them?
Martin: A lot. Wash is the best in the business, hands down. I've already learned a lot about playing balls, reading hops, going out there every day and sticking to the same routine. That helps you be consistent. When the game comes, that sticks.
MLBPipeline.com: The spotlight was on Southeastern Conference shortstops in the 2015 Draft. Vanderbilt's Dansby Swanson went No. 1 overall to the D-backs, Louisiana State's Alex Bregman went No. 2 to the Astros and you went in the middle of the first round. The A's took another one, Alabama's Mikey White, in the second round. How did it feel to be a part of that?
Martin: It was cool. It just goes to show how talent-strong the SEC is. I think it's the best conference in the nation. All those guys are good people. They seem like cool dudes.
MLBPipeline.com: How easy or difficult was your transition to pro ball, after playing in the best college conference in the nation?
Martin: The coaches at Florida made our practices pro style. You don't realize you're getting the pro-ball experience until you get to pro ball. The pitching was kind of like facing a Friday-night guy in the SEC every day. It was challenging. But if you work, there's nothing that can't happen. I tried to work on my routines and staying consistent. If you do the same thing every day, take care of business, don't skip steps, that'll translate on the field.
MLBPipeline.com: In college, you hit significantly better with wood bats in the Cape Cod League than you did with metal bats at Florida. Some guys just seem more comfortable with wood than metal. Is that the case with you?
Martin: I like wood bats better. I don't know what it is. At Florida, I always swung with wood in batting practice. If you can hit with wood, you can hit with anything. If you square it up with wood, you know you've done something right. With wood bats, you have to be precise with your mechanics and swing to square it up.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter.