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Richie Martin is back in the lineup for the High-A Stockton Ports

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The shortstop of the future?
The shortstop of the future?
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

After missing the first 44 games of the season recovering from a torn meniscus, shortstop Richie Martin is back in the lineup for the High-A Stockton Ports. The 2015 first-round pick made his season debut on Tuesday, then homered in his second game on Wednesday. He is the DH on Thursday, which makes sense as he returns from such a long layoff.

Martin entered the year ranked No. 8 on our Community Prospect List Top 30, but MLB.com has him as high as No. 4. In his pro debut in Low-A Vermont last summer he posted a 112 wRC+, but his biggest strength is supposed to be his defense at a premium position. Here is what MLB.com had to say about him over the offseason:

Most college shortstops have to move to a less challenging position in pro ball. That won't be an issue with Martin, who was billed as arguably the top defensive shortstop in the 2015 Draft class before going No. 20 overall to the A's and signing for $1.95 million.

Martin's impressive range is a product of his athleticism and plus speed, and scouts rave about his first-step quickness as well as his overall instincts. His arm is a clean fit at shortstop and enables him to make highlight-reel plays, but he can also get rid of the ball quickly while on the move without sacrificing accuracy. Martin has a tendency to make errors when he tries to do too much, though he did settle down and displayed improved tempo and body control in 2015.

A disciplined hitter with good bat-to-ball skills, Martin is at his best when he's spraying line drives to the opposite field. He does have a tendency to get tied up and roll the ball over to the left side, however, and his simple, low-effort swing prevents him from utilizing his limited power. Even if the bat doesn't pan out, Martin's glove alone could make him an everyday shortstop at the highest level.

Martin's homer on Wednesday came as part of a three-hit day out of the leadoff spot of the order, and in the 1st inning tonight he has already added his first stolen base of the season -- a great sign from a guy returning from a knee injury.

The rest of the Ports took advantage of hitter-friendly Lancaster as as well, with 2015 second-round pick Mikey White blasting his first homer of the season (only took him 36 more games than Martin!). Sandber Pimentel also added a dinger, his sixth of the year, and cleanup hitter Seth Brown reached base five times. Starter Daniel Gossett held his own in the 13-6 victory, with five Ks and a walk in seven innings to continue his excellent campaign.

The Ports are the only A's affiliate who is currently below .500 (19-27), but they've finally got their brightest star on the field.

Season stats

Hitters (thru 46 games)

Sandber Pimentel, 1B: .230/.345/.421, 6 HR, 12.2% BB, 28.4% Ks, 117 wRC+
Seth Brown, OF: .247/.379/.360, 2 HR, 15.8% BB, 20.8% Ks, 116 wRC+
James Harris, OF: .305/.364/.396, 1 HR, 7.8% BB, 19.7% Ks, 8 SB, 115 wRC+
Lana Akau, C: .241/.297/.293, 0 HR, 7.7% BB, 32.3% Ks, 67 wRC+
Mikey White, IF: .208/.277/.306, 1 HR, 8.2% BB 22.6% Ks, 64 wRC+
Richie Martin, SS: 3-for-9, 1 HR, 1 BB, 1 K

Pimentel has been a quietly productive Three True Outcomes hitter, just like he was in Single-A Beloit last year. Brown has maintained great plate discipline and now his average is starting to creep up, so the only thing left is to see him hit for a bit of power.

Pitchers

Daniel Gossett, RHP: 9 starts, 3.52 ERA, 46 ip, 53 Ks, 13 BB, 4 HR
Heath Fillmyer, RHP: 9 games, 3.56 ERA, 48 ip, 42 Ks, 12 BB, 1 HR
Brett Graves, RHP: 9 games, 4.10 ERA, 48⅓ ip, 29 Ks, 20 BB, 4 HR
Casey Meisner, RHP: 9 starts, 4.14 ERA, 45⅔ ip, 35 Ks, 25 BB, 3 HR
Zack Erwin, LHP: 9 starts, 4.99 ERA, 39⅔ ip, 28 Ks, 17 BB, 2 HR

Erwin has really struggled, with stinkers in four of his last five starts; in that span he's averaging a run and two hits per inning and under four frames per outing. Meisner put together arguably his best start of the season on Monday, with a line of 6 ip, 1 ER, 7 Ks, 2 BB. Gossett and Fillmyer continue to consistently provide good outings with strong K/BB rates.

Thursday's games

All four affiliates are in action.

Triple-A Nashville: LIVE, Chris Smith vs. Las Vegas
Double-A Midland: LIVE, Raul Alcantara vs. Springfield
High-A Stockton: LIVE, Brett Graves vs. Lancaster
Single-A Beloit, #1: Lose 5-3, Boomer Biegalski vs. Quad Cities
Single-A Beloit, #2: Lose 4-3, Kevin Johnson vs. Quad Cities

Alcantara got roughed up in his start. Biegalski was pedestrian but not terrible in his loss.

Link to box scores