The 2022 Draft saw the Dodgers select just four pitchers after taking seventeen the year prior. Of the twenty-one total pitchers taken over the last two years, only three have been out of high school. Of those three only one came last year. In the seventeenth round of the 2022 draft, the Los Angeles Dodgers selected North Carolina native Payton Martin out of high school with the young draftee just recently starting his professional career at Rancho Cucamonga. Despite being with the organization for just three outings (so far) Payton Martin is already turning heads as a must-see prospect. Armed with a pounding fastball that touches 97 MPH, mind you at eighteen years old, the right-handed Martin shows flashes of former big league power arm Garrett Richards each time he takes the mound.
Mechanically speaking there is a lot to like about Martin. He works quickly and efficiently through the zone while keeping within himself in higher-leverage situations. A chunk of his effectiveness comes from an ability to back up his fastball with a swing-and-miss change-up that he can drop as low as 82mph. Though the rest of his repertoire is still in the realms of development there is a observable spark of electricity with what he already brings to the table.
“I like to throw my sliders out of the zone, fastball on top of the zone. I just added a curveball and change-up too. They’re coming along pretty good, I just need to stay consistent on my change-up. The curveball is a work in progress but it will come along.”
Martin maintains a solid ability to produce ground balls which is always a plus for strikeout pitchers. Of his 26 total outs recorded almost half have come off the ground ball. While it may be a small sample size it certainly is an encouraging way to start your pro-ball career. His frame still has some room for growth, something that will benefit Martin down the line as it means you can you can likely pencil him in for a few more ticks on velocity. You don’t want to put any labels on such a young prospect but it is possible he could end up pumping his fastball close to, if not hit, triple digits.
If I didn’t know any better I would have guessed Martin was a feature pick in the Dodgers 2022 draft yet here he is converting his believers out of the 17th round. The young star-in-the-making works the zone relatively well whilst maintaining efficiency with his pitch count as he trucks through his outings. Though he can get into trouble from time to time (who doesn’t?) he displays the ever-important ability to maintain his cool and slip out of danger. That single ability in itself may be one of the most important tools a prospect can have, mostly because it is one of the hardest to teach. The clutch gene comes from the DNA and while it’s still too early to label Martin as anything definitive he certainly brings enough to the table to make you believe he has Major League DNA.
“There are definitely people who say I’m too young, a lot of people don’t think I can do it. I look past it, we’re all the same on the field. As long as people can’t hit me we’re good”
Martin hit the ground running in his first career start with the Quakes on a hitless 3 IP outing (35 pitches) in which he collected 3 Ks, one of those strikeouts coming against the MLB’s 13th-ranked prospect Druw Jones. To see Martin showcase both the talent and confidence necessary to succeed at the professional level right out of high school speaks to both the excellence of the Dodgers’ development as well as the natural talent of Payton Martin. With proper time and development, there’s a real chance he will establish himself as one of the best prospects within the Dodgers organization sooner rather than later.
“I’m here to prove myself. I want everybody to know my name by the end of the year.”
Though he may be just three appearances deep into his professional career the stock on Martin is quickly beginning to rise. His poise on the mound speaks to a pitching maturity beyond that of a 17th-round high school pick, and with a bit of physicality left to add to his frame, it’s reasonable to say that Martin could enter the echelons of elite velocity. Should Martin progress as is I wouldn’t be surprised to see him promoted by the end of the year. The right type of performance will tip any organization’s hand and it just so happens to seem that Payton Martin may be capable of that performance.
Perhaps it will come sooner than anyone could expect from the former seventeenth-round draft pick now turned a legitimate piece of the future for the Los Angeles Dodgers.