The look on Walker Martin’s face when his name was called during the second round of the 2023 MLB Draft told a big story.

The Eaton standout is the best baseball player in the state, and arguably has been so for the last two to three years. Staring at the TV when his name got called, friends and family that gathered in his home erupted with celebration. He immediately clapped his hands and hugged those closest to him.

He admitted later the process was stressful but he was happy with the situation he found himself in (the No. 52 overall pick to the San Francisco Giants) and seems eager to get to work with the club.

That means he likely won’t be playing baseball at Arkansas, where he signed a letter of intent earlier this year. If he’s going professional, it means that he’s confident in his situation and his skillset and is making the best decision for himself.

Who the heck are we to tell him otherwise?

But I don’t want to focus on where he’s going. Let’s talk about where Martin has been.

At some point in his life, as kids often do, he fell in love with the game of baseball. At this point in his life, that’s probably the least-shocking statement that could be made about him. But it was the culture of his journey through Eaton that nurtured that love and set him on a path to the professional level.

On a chilly day last April, Martin helped Eaton grab a crucial Patriot League win over rival University. Despite the colder temperatures, the stands were littered with kids watching the Reds play as though they had plopped in the middle of Yankee Stadium during the 1977 World Series.

This year wasn’t unique to any other year in Eaton. Martin was a modest 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored, but every single time he stepped to the plate, elementary school-aged kids couldn’t take their eyes off their backyard superstar. It was the same situation that Martin had been in when he was a kid and he was watching Eaton contend for state titles.

(Dan Mohrmann/

“You see little kids running around here and they’re filming us and asking for autographs,” Martin said after that game. “They’re out here to support and they want to be a part of this. They’re growing up watching us just like I grew up watching Lane Greiman.”

Martin now has a leg up on his childhood idol after getting drafted, but it’s safe to say that watching Greiman was one of the many seeds that grew into Martin’s development.

Now here’s the big kicker with the new Giants prospect. He has done everything in regard to high school athletics the right way. His talent is undeniable and in similar situations, it would be appealing for someone with his ability to choice to a “bigger” program in order to attract more eyeballs.

An Eaton kid through and through, Martin stayed home and played for the team he watched as a young boy.

I understand that he wasn’t in danger of being in a bad situation at Eaton. The baseball culture there is only rivaled at a state-wide level by perhaps Cherry Creek. In this era of private coaches and a win-at-all costs attitude, there are those out there who put more when on the size of the pond rather than the size of the fish.

Martin could’ve played anywhere from Valor Christian to Broomfield to Cheyenne Mountain to Limon.

He was the best player in the state. Period.

He was also a big part of the overall athletic culture at Eaton for all four years he was there. I’ll be among the first to scream it from the rooftops: Specialization sucks.

Specializing in one sport stunts a kid’s overall athletic development and can actually have a bit of mental impact in terms of burnout.

Priorities are fine. Complete specialization is not and Martin is Exhibit A.

In the fall, he threw on shoulder pads, practiced in the grueling heat of fall camp and led Eaton to three straight football state championships. As the starting quarterback.

In his senior season (a season where maybe an athlete would hear a suggestion to sit out), he threw for 2,076 yards and 34 touchdowns. He had hoped to win four state titles in football but his freshman year, the Reds fell short of the title game and watched Sterling come away with the gold.

Then this spring, he turned his attention back to the diamond and put together an all-time great season. He hit home runs in nine consecutive games and ultimately ended the year with 20 long balls, the most of any high school player in these United States of America.

He and Eaton won a third straight baseball title and now he doesn’t just have eyes on a path to playing professional baseball, he found room in the car that’s going to get him there.

There is no mistaking that when it comes to his abilities on the field, he is a special player. But he’s done everything the right way.

And that’s what everyone should be paying attention to.