Syracuse shortstop Martinson showing value at multiple spots this season

Triple-A Syracuse shortstop Jason Martinson is proving to be the ultimate utility man in the Nationals system.

Because of his all-around athletic skill, the Nationals have employed the 6-foot-1, 190-pound right-handed hitter in the infield and the outfield this season.

For example, in his first two weeks (10 games) with Triple-A Syracuse this season, Martinson has played shortstop (three games), left field (four games), third base (two games) and designated hitter (one game). He has had 22 chances, made 10 putouts and had 12 assists without making an error.

Martinson is listed as a third baseman and shortstop, but being able to be a utility player with the Nationals and also athletic enough to range in the outfield, could spell an opportunity with the big league club. With the Nationals’ situation in the outfield, Martinson could be one of the guys who could back up starters in the infield at short and third, and in the outfield. These four games this season have marked his first opportunity ever in left field. He played his first five seasons at short or third.

Director of player development Mark Scialabba said the Nats want to take advantage of Martinson’s ability to play multiple positions as another time-tested avenue to make him more useful to the parent club.

At Birdville High School in Hurt, Texas, Martinson ran track, played football, basketball and baseball. He was first-team all-state as a shortstop. He has worked hard to move up from high Single-A Potomac to Double-A Harrisburg, and now to Syracuse this season.

“Jason is a tremendous athlete,” Scialabba said this week at Nats Park. “He’s letting his athleticism play. He had a tremendous year last year at short. Part of the program takes some time to really learn a position to the point where it becomes natural. Last year, you started to see him as a natural shortstop, but you also realized down the road, his value might be more as a utility man.

“So he is getting some repetitions and different positions, and has taken to it very well. He is a former football player as well. We saw that when we drafted him, that we knew he was someone that will be able to play multiple positions down the road if necessary.”

The 26-year-old Martinson was drafted out of Texas State in the fifth round in 2010. He has played 516 games as a shortstop. He is hitting .308 in 10 games out of the blocks for the Chiefs. He hit .236 last season for Harrisburg, but had 32 extra-base hits, including 10 homers, and 42 RBIs. He also had 23 steals last season.

“Happy with the way he’s swinging the bat right now. He’s confident in there,” Scialabba said. “Taking good swings, and has a good approach. So far, good start for Jason.”

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