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2021 Arizona Diamondbacks Draft Preview: Ty Madden

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Previewing one of two college arms that the Diamondbacks could select with the sixth pick in the draft.

Tyler Madden, RHP, Texas

Height: 6’3”
Weight: 215 lbs.
DOB: 2/21/2000
B/T: R/R
Previously Drafted: 2018 Kansas City 34th Round

The Tools

FB: 55/60 SL: 55/60 CV: 50/55 CH: 45/55 CMD: 55 Overall: 55

In some season, Tyler “Ty” Madden would be a much-heralded pitching prospect. Unfortunately for Madden, this is the year of the Boys form Vandy. While Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker have hogged the spotlight, Madden has quietly, methodically, moved his way up prospect boards since coming back from shoulder injury in early-2019. Madden entered the 2018 draft ranked 240/500 on Baseball America’s prospect rankings with a 90-92 fastball, a good slider with control issues, and a developing curve. Surprising absolutely no one, Madden elected to take his talents to the University of Texas rather than turn pro. At Texas, Madden made an immediate, palpable impact of the Longhorns’ pitching staff. Only 19, Madden held his own against stiff competition as a key member of the powerhouse’s pitching staff. Despite some command issues, Madden held opponents to a .247 batting average, striking out 37 and walking 24 across 42 innings of work. He went from Texas to the Cape Cod League, where he turned in an impressive innings count for a freshman - 27 innings. In that span he struck out 28 and walked only 12, showing some signs of coming around with his control as he became more familiar with bigger, older talent.

In 2019, Madden began to put on the muscle. His fastball started to tick up, but then the velocity started fluctuating wildly, going from 88-94. Madden was shut down that spring with a shoulder issue. During that time, he continued to fill out. By the time he took the bump in 2020, Madden had put on an additional 25-30 pounds of muscle since the day he was first drafted. Before the pandemic brought a stop to the 2020 collegiate season, Madden four starts where he absolutely bullied the opposition. In 25 innings, he struck out 26 hitters. What’s more, Madden only walked four hitters. In his short season of work, he had a 1.80 ERA and a WHIP of 0.88. His fastball now sat comfortably in the 91-94 range. When he needed, he could reach back and hit 96. He cleaned up the control on his slider, turning it into his best pitch. His curve was also fully formed now, with Madden being able to buckle the knees of plenty of right-handed hitters sitting on his slider. Madden also mixed in an effective changeup, a pitch which had previously been somewhat fringey.

Since then, Madden has continued to put in work, refining his delivery even more. He has also added yet a bit more velocity to his fastball. Madden has a smooth, repeatable delivery with little arm movement. He generates power from his lower half, while managing to keep his hips and his shoulders in sync throughout his delivery.

The Pitches

Fastball:

Max: 99 Avg: 94+

There is plenty to love about Madden’s fastball. He continues to add velocity, now sitting in the 92-96 range with reach-back reportedly hitting as high as 99. Those are some nice numbers. What’s more, these appears to be room for even more improvement here (more on that in a bit). Fastballs are not just about velocity though. Straight fastballs still get crushed. There needs to be movement as well. This is the one place where Madden is typically average. Madden’s spin rate is actually somewhat underwhelming, clocking in at 2075 RPM. The result of this low spin rate is that he possesses only average amounts of arm-side run (about four inches) and vertical movement (about 8.8 inches). With modern analytics and Rapsodo, this does feel like something that can be rather easily improved through coaching.

Slider:

Velo: 86-88

While Madden is able to be bullish with his ever-improving fastball, it is his slider that is his best pitch. Already a tough pitch when he was drafted in 2018, this pitch has seen the most improvement. He cleaned up the command, added depth, and found yet more velocity. He spins the ball up to the plate at around 2500 RPM which, unlike his fastball, sits somewhat above average, with room for continued improvement through coaching. Lastly, he is able to tunnel the slider well off his fastball, which allows him to use the slider effectively against batters from both sides of the plate.

Curveball:

Velo: 76-79

Madden flips his curveballs with 2400-2600 RPM. He has solidly average sweep and depth to his shape. What helps Madden’s curve play up some is his ability to control it in the zone, not leaving mistakes where they could be hit. At worst, this is an average pitch. With any sort of improvement, this becomes another above average offering.

Changeup:

Velo: 83-88

Despite being one of his three main pitches when he was first drafted, Madden’s changeup has fallen behind in terms of improvement. As a developing power pitcher, it seems that Madden has not yet truly developed a feel for the best way to deploy the pitch. Part of this may have to do with the fact that it appears to be the pitch with which he experiences the most difficulty with command. Throwing the pitch for a strike seems to give him difficulty. This is likely a good thing right now though, as the pitch offers well-below average horizontal movement and almost no drop. Essentially, his changeup simply does not fade, which is a problem. Currently, he throws it exclusively to lefties, though it seems he uses it more as a throw-away pitch, something to set up the hitter for his next offering. He will want to clean that up and develop his changeup into a true fourth pitch if he is going to want to truly establish himself at the highest level. There is reason to believe this could happen. Madden’s change floats to the plate with a mere 1618 RPM. For a changeup, that is a fantastic. David Pierce, Madden’s coach at Texas, claims that improving the changeup has been a big focus for Madden. If that’s the case, then Madden could be poised to improve that pitch considerably, especially once he graduates to professional coaching.

Scouting Clip:

Conclusion

If one was to go into a lab to build a right-handed power pitcher, Madden is a prime example of what the finished product would look like. Now that Madden has filled out, he is a tall, muscular pitcher with good athleticism that generates his power fro his lower half, limiting the amount of strain on his arm. He is able to get a strong whip through incredible scapular load. His wrist mechanics are clean. As for his follow-through, he remains balanced and in sync throughout his delivery and finishes without falling off the mound. It is in his load-transfer that there is room for much excitement. His hips do not currently torque much, meaning that, despite generating power from his lower half, he is leaving velocity on the table. It is quite possible that extra coaching and a regimen that emphasizes flexibility (especially in the hips), that Madden could find a bit more zip on his already powerful fastball, giving him a pitch that lives around 96 mph.

While not yet a finished product, Madden is about as close to it as nearly any pitcher coming out of college these days. Whichever team drafts Madden is looking at a mid-top-of the rotation starter (most likely a solid #3) that could reach the majors with only a single full season of development, giving him a very appealing ETA of sometime in the 2023 season.

TL/DR

Unless the Diamondbacks experience a bit of fortune with the way picks 1-5 play out, if they want to take a pitcher in the first round, Ty Madden is the player to select. Madden’s upside and current polish make him a very low risk pick, as opposed to the exceptional risk tied to most prep right-handers. His closeness to being a finished product also fits well into Arizona’s development pipeline. That said, there are even bigger upside picks likely to be available at #6. So, unless the mandate is pitching or bust, this talented arm seems likely to fall to someone else.
Chances of AZ drafting: < 20%

Up next: Jackson Jobe, RHP, Heritgae Hall HS (OK)