In recent years Major League Baseball has seen the revival of the “two-way player.” The history of baseball is littered with successful players who have dominated on the mound and at the plate. Most of this success has been found in the minors. From 1900-1959, minor league baseball had 671 two-way players. However, before Shohei Ohtani’s arrival from Japan (and more recently, Brendan McKay), only seven players had an impact in both aspects of the game at the Major League level. Babe Ruth was the most notable two-way player, but his value at the plate ended his pitching career far too soon.
Florida has had a number of two-way players including most recently Austin Langworthy and Jordan Butler. In the 2019 recruiting cycle, the Gators signed Kevin Martin. Martin was one of the top prospects, primarily noted for his pitching ability but also expects to make an impact on the Gators batting order.
Martin committed to Florida as soon as he received an offer from head coach Kevin O’Sullivan in July of 2017. The decision came easy as the Gators had just earned their first national title and was at the top of his list. The right handed pitcher and first baseman attended a camp at UF in 2016 and “loved the campus and overall energy.”
The commitment allowed the 6’4, 220 pound prospect to focus on his game. As a senior at Westminster Christian in Miami, he hit .410 in 83 at-bats while crushing ten homers and knocking in 32 RBI. On the mound he was just as successful. Despite a 6-4 record, his 0.87 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 48.1 innings of work were enough to earn District 4A-8 Player of the Year honors.
Perfect Game has Martin ranked as the No. 13 RHP in Florida and the No. 50 player overall in the state. He has a solid fastball that sits 90-93 and has reached as high as 95. Martin is also armed with a changeup, sinker, curve, and slider. He relies heaviest on his fastball, sinker, and changeup.
While Martin was recruited to Florida due to his pitching prowess, he hopes to contribute to the program as a freshman. During the recruiting process Martin spoke with O’Sullivan about the ability to hit because it’s his favorite part of the game. The head coach told him, “if you show us you can hit, you’ll hit.”
“I’m aiming to have a positive impact at whatever role Sully thinks is best for me this year. Whether that role is pitching, hitting, or (playing) first, I’m confident I’ll be able to contribute early in a positive way.”