A's high on makeup of No. 20 pick Martin
Long a target of club, University of Florida shortstop an 'elite athlete'
OAKLAND -- The A's had been eyeing Richie Martin for years, along the way forging a relationship with the young shortstop that reached new heights Monday, when the club selected the University of Florida product with the No. 20 overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft.
"I've been dreaming of this day since I was a little kid, and it was just really, really exhilarating and exciting," said Martin. "It was just an awesome moment."
Martin was quick to say he's seen "Moneyball" -- "So I know I a little bit about Mr. [Billy] Beane and how he runs things," he noted -- and has already excelled at the organization's biggest mantra, spelled out in the film.
"I'd say my strength is getting on base and working counts," he said, "and just doing anything I can to get on base."
The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 9:30 a.m. PT, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 10 a.m. PT.
A's scouting director Eric Kubota forecasts the first-round selection as a player with "the chance to pretty much do everything at shortstop."
"First and foremost are his tools and athleticism," Kubota said. "He's an elite athlete. We think his defensive ability has the chance to be special.
"He's an outstanding athlete. His agility and athleticism and quickness translate to big range. At the same time, we feel good about his ability to make the routine play, and he has the arm strength to make all the necessary throws at the position. There's really nothing we don't like about his defense."
Though it's rare for college shortstops to be able to stay at the position in pro ball, Martin -- ranked by MLB.com as the No. 34 overall Draft prospect -- is considered to be a potential exception.
He also boasts plenty of speed, fit for the top of the order -- and, at age 20, perhaps sooner than later for the A's, who traded two shortstop prospects in Addison Russell (Cubs) and Daniel Robertson (Rays) in the last year.
That they snagged two on Monday, getting Alabama shortstop Mikey White at No. 63, was simply a product of this year's Draft class, Kubota insists. Of the 75 selections made league-wide, 10 were shortstops -- including seven from the collegiate level.
"They're both high-performing shortstops from arguably the best collegiate league in the country," Kubota said.
Martin has hit .292 with five home runs and 20 stolen bases for the Gators as a junior this year, after finishing second in the Cape Cod League in batting (.364) in 2014. He was drafted in the 38th round by Seattle in 2012 but opted for college, earning a spot on the SEC honor roll in each of his first two years at Florida.
The infielder says he was molded as a player by his father, Richard Sr., and former big leaguer Chet Lemon, a first-round pick by the A's in 1972. Martin has been playing under the tutelage of Lemon since age 11 and made sure he was one of the first to hear of Monday's big news.
Moreover, Martin's maternal grandfather, Cornelius Thomas, played in the Negro Leagues, though he passed before ever meeting him.
Growing up, Martin idolized Derek Jeter.
"I just love the way he plays the game," he said. "I don't really try to model my game after him, but I try to play the game as hard as he does, the way he does, because it's the right way to play the game."
"He's a baseball rat," Kubota said. "We think he's going to maximize his ability that he has. He's a hard worker. He's a team leader. It's just a very, very positive baseball makeup."