Arkansas Razorbacks' Casey Martin's slide in 2020 MLB Draft ends on Day 2
baseball Edit

Casey Martin's slide in 2020 MLB Draft ends in 3rd round

Casey Martin is the second Arkansas player off the board in the 2020 MLB Draft.
Casey Martin is the second Arkansas player off the board in the 2020 MLB Draft. (Arkansas Athletics)

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Once projected to be a first round pick, Casey Martin slipped out of Day 1 and didn’t come off the board until the third round of the 2020 MLB Draft on Thursday.

The Philadelphia Phillies ended the Lonoke native’s slide by taking him with the 87th overall pick. He is the second Arkansas player to be drafted this year, following Heston Kjerstad, who went second overall to the Orioles.

Pick No. 87 comes with a slot value of $689,300.

Although he has struggled with pitch recognition at the plate and errors in the field, Martin was still widely thought of as one of of the top athletes in this year’s draft because of his tools.

In addition to his elite speed, Martin has a lot of power - as evidenced by his 30 career home runs - and a solid arm and quickness that allows him to play several positions. Originally a candidate at second base, he was the Razorbacks’ starting third baseman in 2018 before moving to shortstop. Some scouts believe he could play center field at the next level.

Named the Arkansas Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior in high school, Martin burst onto the scene as a freshman. He led the Razorbacks to a runner-up finish at the College World Series by hitting a team-high .345 while also racking up 14 doubles, 13 home runs and 49 RBIs, earning him Freshman All-America honors from the NCBWA and Collegiate Baseball.

His numbers fell a bit the following year, as he hit just .286 as a sophomore, but he still managed 40 extra-base hits - the seventh most in a single season in UA history - and his slugging percentage fell only eight points to .548.

Martin’s issue, and the reason he wasn’t drafted higher, is he has consistently struggled hitting off speed pitches. The result was a school-record 79 strikeouts last season and he already had 22 when this season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead of improving that area, Martin actually saw his strikeout rate increase from 27.9 percent to 37.3 percent this season. His struggles with errors continued as well, as he made five to bring his career total to 43. Head coach Dave Van Horn was even forced to bench him for a game.

He ended his career on a high note, though. Despite making an error, he went 3 for 5 with four RBIs and finished a triple shy of the cycle in a tight 10-9 win over Grand Canyon on March 11.

The shortened season likely prevented Martin from cracking the UA’s top-10 list for career home runs and extra-base hits, but it also kept him from climbing the strikeouts list. His 165 career strikeouts broke the previous record for a three-year player (161, Brett Eibner) and rank sixth all-time at Arkansas.

The Razorbacks have now had multiple players picked in 28 consecutive drafts, a streak that dates back to 1993.