The A’s agreed to terms with first-round draft pick Richie Martin Tuesday and the 20-year-old shortstop out of the University of Florida worked out and took batting practice with the team before heading out on his summer minor-league assignment.
Martin, the 20th overall pick, will depart Wednesday and begin play with Oakland’s short-season Class A team in Vermont. Before he left, he got the grand tour of the major league clubhouse and met most of the players and staff. His biggest thrill, he said, was the shoes he received from equipment manager Steve Vucinich.
“I actually heard about the white shoes about a week ago and I was pretty pumped about that,” Martin said. “I’ve never worn white shoes in my baseball career.”
Martin said while growing up in Valrico, Fla., he watched A’s players Scott Kazmir and Ben Zobrist when they played with the Tampa Bay Rays. He’d only been to California once before this week, when he was 9, so he doesn’t know a whole lot about Oakland or the A’s organization.
“The only thing I really knew was seeing the movie `Moneyball,’ ” Martin said.
Asked to give a comparison with general manager Billy Beane and actor Brad Pitt, who played Beane in the film, Martin said, “The hair was spot on, and the glasses. But I’d only been around him for an hour, and in the movie, they kind of made him more aggressive and everything was about business. But he was making jokes, and the whole time I was around him, he was smiling. So maybe he’s not like Brad Pitt in that sense.”
Martin, who hit .291 as junior with the Gators with a .399 on-base percentage, said he has drawn comparisons with Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond as a good blend of offensive and defensive skills. He added that he grew up idolizing the great Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.
Martin, who was accompanied by his parents to his signing, also noted that his maternal grandfather, Walter Thomas, played in the Negro Leagues with the Kansas City Monarchs. Thomas actually played parts of four seasons with the Monarchs and in 1945, batted second ahead of future Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson. Satchel Paige also was on that Monarchs team.
Martin isn’t sure how long it will take him to get to Oakland for real.
“Hopefully it will be quick,” he said. “It depends on how I play and nothing but that.”
The A’s have now signed or agree to terms with 31 of their 40 selections from the draft, including each of the first 13 and 19 of the first 21.
Scheduled starter Sonny Gray had to be admitted to the hospital Monday night with flu-like symptoms, and as far as manager Bob Melvin knew, Gray was still there Tuesday afternoon.
“It hit him pretty hard,” Melvin said. “He’s actually been dealing with it for the last couple of days, but last night, it actually got worse. I talked to him this morning and he still sounded pretty weak, but he said he felt a lot better than last night.”
Melvin wasn’t sure how Gray would be slotted back into the rotation, noting that it would depend on how quickly he recovers.
Chris Bassitt was called up from Triple-A Nashville to take Gray’s start, and infielder Max Muncy was optioned.
Elsewhere, just an off day for outfielder Josh Reddick against a left-handed starter. He’s available, and will start on Wednesday.