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Martin soaking it all up at first big league camp

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- On his first day of Spring Training this month, Dodgers pitching prospect Jarret Martin arrived to Camelback Ranch an hour before his scheduled report time. The 24-year-old left-hander, in big league camp for the first time this year, thought he'd be one of the first guys in the building.

As it turned out, he was one of the last.

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"Yeah, that was like my first 'aha' moment where I knew it's going to be different up here," Martin said. "Now I get here two hours early. It took me one day to learn that."

Along with the other prospects getting their first taste of Major League camp, Martin figures to be learning a lot this spring. Sharing a clubhouse with the type of All-Star talent the Dodgers possess, he is aware of the opportunity before him, even though he knows that in all likelihood he'll begin the season in the Minors.

"It's an honor, there's no other word besides that," Martin said. "You see some of the names on this team and you want to pinch yourself. Being here with this franchise, it's a dream come true. These guys show up early and leave late, and I'm really trying to shadow what they do. It's a priceless experience."

It has been a whirlwind few months for Martin, who began last season as a starter only to be moved to the bullpen midway through June. The switch ended up being a turning point for the southpaw as he went from a 4.79 ERA in 14 starts for Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga to a 2.73 ERA in 26 relief appearances between the California League and Double-A Chattanooga.

Martin's strong finish to 2013 earned him a ticket to the Arizona Fall League and later a coveted spot on the Dodgers' 40-man roster as the club protected him from the Rule 5 Draft.

"That was very exciting. I felt like I had a pretty good year and done enough to be protected, but you never know," Martin said. "It was tough waiting, but once I got that phone call, it was a big relief. After that, I just started working again so I could be ready to show what I can do in the spring."

With his projected role in the Majors now clearly defined as a reliever, Martin is excited about having a full spring to prepare in the bullpen -- a luxury he didn't have last year and one he believes will propel him to a breakout 2014 campaign.

"It helps a lot to know what your job is going to be," Martin said. "I'm going to treat this spring like the regular season and try to build some momentum coming out of camp. I'm focusing on attacking hitters now. I had a few things click for me late last year, so I'm looking forward to trying it out against some big leaguers."

Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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