Florida State’s coaches liked just about everything Robby Martin did at the plate and in the field. But they also saw the potential if he shed a few pounds, creating a faster 2.0 version.
Now 20 pounds lighter, Martin can feel the difference each day in practice and looks to show it as the Seminoles take the field to begin the 2021 season.
“Just being out there at practice, going easy and not being too drained or too tired,” the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Martin said. “Whether it’s working out or just in our longer practices that we have. It’s just been easier to get through them and just feeling better.”
Martin will be a crucial part of the middle of the Seminoles’ lineup as they open against North Florida on Saturday and Sunday. (He is not related to Mike Martin Jr., but the FSU coach often speaks like an admiring parent of his pupil.) As a redshirt sophomore in 2020, Martin hit .324 with 22 hits and 14 RBI in 17 games, good for a .439 on-base percentage. While the season was shortened, Martin reinforced his ability to get on base as well as drive in runs.
FSU coach Mike Martin Jr. saw plenty of upside — what the young outfielder could be if he dedicated his offseason to conditioning and strength training. That wasn’t an easy request in a pandemic, but Martin took the advice in an effort to be a better all-around player.
“Anytime you have exit meetings, obviously after COVID it was via phone, but we said, ‘You got to be a little bit lighter on your feet, to be a better defender, to be a better runner to make yourself more valuable,’ ” Martin Jr. said. “He took it to heart. He’s a smart guy that knew he needed to do it. That’s the self-discipline. It’s really paramount for guys to find out how good they can be in this game. And he certainly did it.”
Martin’s smooth left-handed swing had already caught the eye of everyone from FSU faithful in the stands to coaches and scouts. Now everything about his game is quicker. The preseason All-American, who was also named to the Golden Spikes Award watch list, is poised to use that speed to take an extra base or increase his range in the outfield.
“He’s definitely moving better,” said outfielder Reese Albert, who was also Martin’s teammate in summer ball in Orlando this offseason. “We worked out a lot over the summer together and just seeing him really grind through that process. It was cool to watch. We call him Skinny Rob now. He’s definitely moving around a lot better now. He’s quicker with his swing, quicker with his feet.”
A Tampa native, Martin was attracted to FSU baseball because of the tradition and consistency of stacking 40-win seasons year after year. He’s studying Social Sciences, enjoying classes like public administration and sociology.
“It’s a pretty good thing for me to have the broad range of classes and learning different things,” Martin said. “Sociology classes are great with any career path, allows you to learn a lot about the human mind and the way the human mind thinks. I think that’s helpful for the future for any job.”
He’s also thankful for the support of FSU’s Seminole Boosters, who contribute toward baseball scholarships, facilities and more.
“That’s a huge thing for us, that they take the time to use their money for us to allow us to get out on the field,” Martin said.
Martin joked that he’s tired of seeing FSU’s deep pitching staff, which he feels is among the best in college baseball. The frequent scrimmages have challenged hitters and pitchers alike, and Martin has also embraced the new philosophy of swinging earlier in the count. If the fastball is over the plate, the Seminoles have the green light.
That philosophy, coupled with Martin’s new physique, could lead to even bigger power numbers.
“He’s always been a pure hitter,” Martin Jr. said. “Now he’s trimmed up a little bit, he’s lighter on his feet. That’s going to bode well for him and for us as well.”