Colorado Spotlight: Walker Martin, SS, Eaton HS

Colorado Spotlight: Walker Martin, SS, Eaton HS

Despite being a town of just over 5,800 people, there has been no shortage of quality athletes to come out of Eaton, Colorado. Los Angeles Chargers star running back Austin Ekeler is a graduate of Eaton High School, as is Las Vegas Raiders long snapper Trent Sieg, but baseball has been the sport of choice among the top athletes in Eaton as of late. 

In 2021, pitcher Ryan Ure was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 16th round, but decided to attend Oklahoma State University. He is now expected to be selected much higher when he is draft eligible again in 2024. Eaton also possesses two highly touted pitching prospects – high school senior Tate Smith and junior Mitch Haythorn. Both of whom have committed to play college baseball at Big XII schools in Oklahoma. 

Those three players on their own coming from a small town in northern Colorado would be impressive enough, but their current star shortstop is Walker Martin. Martin has a chance to be the highest Colorado high school position player ever selected in the MLB draft come July. When discussing what the secret to Eaton being the home of so many elite athletes, Martin said they are just “a bunch of farm kids that have the hard working ethic, we all just put our nose to the grindstone and get to work.”

While there are clearly plenty of athletes that come out of the Eaton area, there are also a lot of athletes in Martin’s family. His mom was a college basketball player at the University of Northern Colorado, and his sister is committed to play volleyball at South Dakota State next year. He also has multiple other family members who played college football. Martin himself was actually being recruited to play quarterback in college by some mid-major and division two schools, but ultimately decided the sport of his future was baseball and committed to the University of Arkansas early in his junior year..  

Martin’s family moved to Eaton when he was scheduled to start third grade, however, there were no available spots for a third grade student. The only spots available were in the second grade class. Therefore, Martin had to repeat the second grade. I asked Martin how he felt about graduating with his younger sister and he commented, “it meant I got to spend more time with my family.” This proved to me how important family was to Martin. With that change for Martin, he gets to graduate with his sister who is more than a year his junior. It also means he will be a draft eligible sophomore if he does attend Arkansas, something he wasn’t aware of until Dave Van Horn – head coach of the Razorbacks – brought it to his attention.

When most of the top baseball players in this year’s draft were traveling around the country every summer playing in showcases and tournaments, Martin often found himself closer to home so he could get ready for football season. This past summer was Martin’s first experience competing in the Perfect Game National and the Area Code games – both of which are the biggest baseball events a high school player can attend. Despite football taking him away from some of the bigger baseball events in his past, he actually feels that it helped develop him as a baseball player.

When he finally got a chance to attend those marquee scouting events, he expressed he did so with a chip on his shoulder. That chip?

“People think Colorado is not a baseball state…people dog you for being a Colorado kid, don’t know if you can compete against kids from Florida, California, Arizona, Georgia, wherever it may be. So when I was going out to these events that was the one thing that was going through my head, everybody else thinks these kids are better than me just because they are from a warm weather state…I want to prove everybody wrong.”

A chance to compete against the best and possibly make a run at a national championship were a couple of the biggest reasons he chose to commit to Arkansas. Another shot at a national championship is something every fan of Arkansas is itching to get after they lost the 2018 title when a foul pop up off the bat of Cadyn Grenier, a ball that, if caught clinches the College World Series, fell between three defenders. Two pitches later Grenier hit a game tying single, followed by a Trevor Larnach two run home run that was enough to even the series. Oregon State won the next night to lift the trophy, but that pop up the night before is the play that lives in infamy, not unlike the Bill Bucker grounder between his legs in the World Series. 

Martin feels he, along with the rest of an impressive recruiting class scheduled to get to Fayetteville in the Fall, have what it takes to bring that title home. That said, the fact he is being talked about as a potential first round pick in July could make it rather difficult to turn down the chance to turn pro, as his ultimate goal is to be a Major League Baseball player. Whether it is lifting a national championship trophy, putting on a MLB uniform, or both, a kid from Eaton isn’t a kid to count out. 

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