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VALRICO—When asked to describe his summer ball team’s shortstop, Richie Martin, coach Chet Lemon only needed one word.
Martin, Lemon’s son, Marcus, currently with the Atlanta Braves’ AA minor league affiliate, and Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon grew up working out together. And yesterday, Martin took a step toward joining his friends in the professional ranks by signing his national letter of intent to play college ball at the University of Florida.
“It’s an honor to have the opportunity to go there,” said Martin, outfitted in a bright orange Gators T-shirt.
Martin gave his verbal commitment to Florida in January, before his junior season. He proceeded to hit .366 with seven doubles, 17 RBIs and nine stolen bases. After spending the summer driving to Orlando for practices and playing in tournaments on the road with Lemon’s team, Chet Lemon Juice, Martin took his official visit to Florida in August.
Martin, who has known his summer ball coach since he was 11 years old, turned to the former major leaguer for advice last year when he was struggling. The pointers clearly played off.
“None of this,” Martin said “Would have happened without him.”