Young shortstop Richie Martin is one example of what this season is about for the Orioles. They are taking a look at a young player with some skills as they try to find their way when thrown into the deep end in the major leagues for the first time.
In the case of the 24-year-old Martin, it is as a Rule 5 pick from December. Not only is this his first time in the majors, but the 2015 Oakland Athletics first-round draft pick has never even played at the Triple-A level.
In 60 plate appearances, he’s batting .167/.250/.222 with one double, one triple and one RBI. He’s had just two multi-hit games, a three-hit game April 8 versus Oakland and two hits in Game 2 of Saturday’s doubleheader. Martin hit .300 last year in Double-A in the Oakland organization.
Right now, he’s going through on the job training and the ups and downs that all young players go through. Even though the Rule 5 experience is unique, he said today the challenges of playing baseball for young players are not.
“When you play this game, the real challenges start in college and the minors,” Martin said this afternoon. “That is when you realize how hard this game is. It’s nothing new. If you are not right mentally the game will run you over. But everyone here has the right mindset. We keep plugging away.
“We are trying to win every game. That is our only goal and you have to flush nights like last night. There is nothing we can do about that game or the previous series now.”
The Orioles are giving Martin, drafted out of the University of Florida, the chance to get almost every day at-bats while he plays a premium position in the middle of the diamond.
“I’m learning more and more every single day,” he said. “From the coaches, the older players. Just being out there, you learn little things here and there that will make me better in the future.”
That includes dealing with major league pitching and trying to hit it more consistently.
“I don’t want to get into specifics. But me, (hitting coach) Don Long and Howie (Clark, assistant hitting coach), we’ve been into the cage every day. Working really hard and trying to simplify things to get me to square up balls as consistently as possible,” he said. “That is all you can control. If I can square balls up and do some damage, my speed can help me and take over after that.”
And there is plenty of speed for Martin to use. According to Statcast, he is tied for seventh in the majors in sprint speed at 29.3 mph.
He’s also working on trying to identify how teams are pitching him and trying to get him out.
“There are some patterns and I’ve noticed teams are playing me certain ways. I know what they are going to do so all I can do is worry about my approach at the plate,” he said.