Richie Martin trying to stay consistent in camp
Since the end of the 2017 season, five different players were pencilled into the shortstop position to fill a gap that was blown wide open after veteran JJ Hardy’s departure. Most notable was Manny Machado, who played 96 games at shortstop. He was followed by Tim Beckham, appearing in 46, Jonathan Villar, appearing in 18 and Breyvic Valera and Jace Peterson each appearing once.
Back in December, the Orioles acquired two more shortstops via the Rule-5 draft and last month, they signed another to a Minor League contract. Richie Martin is a former first-round draft pick out of the University of Florida and was selected 20th overall by the Oakland Athletics in the 2015 Amateur Draft. Drew Jackson was traded to the Orioles by the Philadelphia Phillies. After selecting Jackson from the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Phillies traded him to the Orioles for International Bonus Slot money.
Alcides Escobar signed a Minor League contract on February 16 and he will earn a $700K bonus if he makes the Major League roster. An All-Star and a Gold Glove winner in 2015, Escobar was the MVP of the 2015 American League Championship Series. With the Kansas City Royals, he went 11-for-23 (.478) with two doubles and five RBI.
All three players are projected to make the team, according to Roster Resource however, only one of them will get the nod to start on Opening Day when the team heads north to New York. The projections show Martin will be the starter with Escobar and Jackson on a four-man bench for Brandon Hyde.
Martin, 24, spoke with MASN’s Sara Perlman yesterday, discussing the competition for the shortstop position in camp. “It’s a competition, but at the same time we’re out here having fun,” Martin said. “We’re all just out here playing baseball and we’re having a good time.”
“Off the field, we don’t really talk about baseball,” Martin said of he and Jackson, who room together during camp. “He’s a good dude and I’ve known him for a while. I played against him in ‘The Cape.’ At the end of the day, we just out and play and I guess, best man wins. We could both make the team, we both may not. It’s not up to us, we can just control what’s in our hands.”
Martin has made an appearance in seven Grapefruit League games this spring. He’s gone 7-for-17 (.412) so far in 19 plate appearances and has two doubles, four RBI and two stolen bases. In regards to the success he’s been having early in big league camp, Martin told Perlman he’s, “Just going about my business the right way and controlling what’s in my hands. You know everyday all I can control is my effort in the at-bats I have, trying to play good defense and putting in consistent work every day. That’s all I can really worry about.”
Discussing his goals for the upcoming season, Martin said, “Stay consistent, put together good at-bats.” He continued, “You’re not going to get a hit every at-bat, but things I can control, the at-bats I put up and playing good defense, running the bases like I know how and just playing the game smart. I think if I do all those things then good things will happen.”