When the Twins traded starting pitcher Jose Berrios to the Toronto Blue Jays in July of 2021, Minnesota was applauded for the return they received for what was at the time, a year and a half of Berrios.
The headliner coming back to the Twin Cities was Austin Martin, who seemed like he was poised to be a big part of the Twins' core when they were ready to compete again.
Coming off a very successful collegiate career at Vanderbilt University, Martin was taken fifth overall in the 2020 MLB Draft by Toronto and was slotted in as the 22nd overall prospect in baseball when MLB Pipeline updated their rankings in 2021.
However, things started going downhill for Martin after he made his organizational debut in 2021 with the Wichita Wind Surge. After struggling with the Wind Surge in 2022, injuries that season started to raise questions about what his future would look like with the team.
With the opportunity to see more time after the 2022 season came to an end, Martin went to the Arizona Fall League where he was a member of the Glendale Desert Dogs to help make up for lost time.
In 21 games with the Desert Dogs, Martin impressed by slashing .374/.454/.482 with 31 hits, six doubles, one home run, 11 RBI, 10 stolen bases, eight walks and seven strikeouts.
Finally showing flashses of what type of player he can be, it seemed like Martin was ready to turn the page from his injury history and make his case to be an important part of the Twins' future following his time in Arizona.
Unfortunately, heading into this season, those questions became prevalent again after Martin tore his UCL on his throwing arm during spring training, and it sidelined him until July 3 when he made his official season debut with the St. Paul Saints after a rehab stint.
Austin Martin is still one of the Twins best young prospects
Oh how the mighty have fallen, at least that what it felt like heading into this year. After being a top three prospect in the organization and a top 100 prospect in baseball, Martin fell from MLB Pipeline's top 100 list and dropped as low as the 20th prospect in the organization this seaon.
With guys like Royce Lewis, Matt Wallner and Edouard Julien coming up and making a major impact as rookies in the MLB, it was easy for Twins fans to forget about Martin and for his future to continue the unfortunate trend of being unclear.
Martin, however, decided to change the narrative and has been a welcomed, positive development since returning from injury a few months ago.
In 46 games since July 20, Martin is slashing .304/.425/.468 with 48 hits including eight doubles, six home runs, 23 RBI, 29 walks, 34 strikeouts and 14 stolen bases.
Being an on-base machine, Martin's walk rate of 14.6% is nearly matching his strikeout rate of 16.3% and he has reached base in 12 consecutive games with the Saints.
After finding his footing in July, Martin excelled at the plate in August by putting up a slash of .329/.460/.544 with five doubles, four home runs, 15 RBI and 11 stolen bases in 23 games during the month.
Defensively, despite the injury history, Martin is finding success all around the diamond. Although he has primarily played second base with the Saints, Martin has spent time in center field and left field as well this year.
In 285 innings at second base, Martin has committed just two errors and in 77 innings in center field, he has committed just one error. He has played error-free ball in 107.1 innings in left field.
Now that Austin Martin is back and making sure he is not forgotten, the question arises of what does his future look like with the Twins?
Throughout this season, it seemed like he was going to be the odd man out given the logjam of infielders on the Twins' roster and with Brooks Lee waiting in the wings to add to that logjam.
Given his defensively flexibility, excellent approach and ability to steal bases, Martin should be able to find his way as a utility player with the Twins when he gets the call. Guys with those traits are valuable and he can help the team by being able to fill a variety of roles.
His approach and contact ability should make him a good hitter at the next level, it is just a matter of how good he can become depending on where he slots in defensively with his profile and if he is able to develop more power.
Even if Martin does not find a role in Minnesota, he is starting to build up his pedigree again and could possibly be involved in a trade if the Twins look to bolster their roster through that route.
Seeming like a once forgotten about piece of the puzzle, Austin Martin is starting to come around again and is putting together an intriguing case for what he can do and what role(s) he can potentially fill with the Twins.