Just because shortstop Casey Martin slipped to the third round of the Major League Baseball draft doesn’t mean the Phillies had to sign him for third-round money.
In the absence of a second-round pick, the Phillies went far above the slot value for the 87th overall selection and signed Martin on Thursday night to a $1.3 million bonus. The MLB-recommended bonus for the 87th pick was $683,500.
Martin, 21, was projected as a potential first-round pick after a stellar freshman year at the University of Arkansas in 2018. But his strikeout rate and error total rose last season, and he underwent surgery in the fall for a broken hamate bone in his left hand.
In 15 games before the coronavirus wiped out the college season, Martin batted .271 with two homers but 22 strikeouts in only 59 at-bats (71 plate appearances).
“In our conversations with him, and we had several of them leading up to the draft this year, we really keyed in on [the surgery] as something that got off to his slow start this year,” Phillies amateur scouting director Brian Barber said after the draft. “It was an issue that we talked about with him. We have some different testing things that we’ve done with Casey that were really high as well that led us to believe there’s upside.”
At 5-foot-11, Martin has a short, all-out running stride similar to Dustin Pedroia’s. His size draws favorable comparisons to that of Houston Astros star Alex Bregman. And as a freshman, he batted .345 with 13 home runs and a .974 OPS in 252 at-bats to help Arkansas reach the finals of the College World Series.
“Anytime we’re going to be able to add a middle of the field player who’s played a high level in the SEC with a tremendous speed and power combination like Casey has, we’re going to be in,” Barber said.