Over the next couple weeks leading up to the 2021 MLB Amateur Draft, Sports Info Solutions will be publishing a series of scouting reports from three of our Video Scouts for the top-10 collegiate draft prospects and five honorable mentions. Each player is graded by the 20-80 scouting scale, given a comprehensive evaluation, and assigned a floor and a ceiling comparison, which indicate–if a player makes the Major Leagues–the range of the type of player into which he can develop.
To read all the reports, click here.
Written by Brandon Tew
While Madden’s future value doesn’t stack up to some of the pitchers behind him on our list, his proven track record and limited injury history pushed him higher in our rankings. Madden’s success in the Big 12 Conference and his workhorse mentality will make him a 1st round pick on July 11. Madden possesses all the tools to become an MLB pitcher, with two-plus pitches and above-average control. Madden could reach the Majors faster than some of his draft mates.
Early College Career:
Taking the mound early in his freshman year in Austin. Madden quickly proved his reliability to the Texas coaching staff. Appearing in 15 games with 8 starts, Madden tossed a solid 42 1/3 innings with a 4-1 record and 3.40 ERA. Serving as the Saturday starter in the Covid-19 shortened 2020 season, Madden struck out 26 batters and walked only 4 over 25 innings pitched. He posted a dominant 1.80 ERA to go along with his outstanding K/BB ratio. Madden showed his potential in 2020 to be a top-of-the-line starter in the country and didn’t disappoint in 2021.
Madden was handed the keys to the car this season as Texas’ ace. He faced the 2021 national champions out of the gate in Mississippi State on Feb. 20 and showed glimpses of his plus fastball and slider combo. He struck out 5 Bulldogs in 4 innings. He followed that performance with consecutive scoreless outings against BYU and Houston. He struck out 25 Cougars in those two games, including a 14-strikeout shutout against Houston on March 5.
Madden continued to dominate Big 12 competition, surrendering 3 ER or more only twice during conference play. He routinely pitched deep into games past the 100-pitch mark.
Madden would face Mississippi State two more times during the season, this time in the College World Series, which would be his last two starts of 2021. He pitched brilliantly in both allowing only 2 ER in each contest and striking out 18 batters in 13 innings. In a must-win game on June 25, Madden earned the win for his team, demonstrating his competitive mindset and big-game attitude.
Over the course of the season, Madden proved to be one of the most consistent Friday night starters in the nation. With a 2.45 ERA and a 3.1 K/BB ratio, Madden climbed up draft boards into the top half of the 1st round.
Madden is a strong, sturdily built right-handed power pitcher who is more comfortable working down in the zone than up. He has a plus fastball that sits at 94-96 mph, and he routinely reaches back for more, even touching 99 mph this season. Madden added velocity from his first two seasons in Austin when he sat 90-93 mph.
While his fastball doesn’t have spectacular movement, it works and plays up with his command and control of the pitch. He throws strikes consistently with it hitting triple-digits on the radar gun, and can spot the pitch down in the zone with a little sinking action to the pitch. That said, Madden must improve his command of the pitch if he’s going to continue throwing this type of fastball. He can leave it up in the zone and miss high and arm side. Madden still allows hard contact on the pitch when it’s up.
Madden’s slider is his best pitch and he utilizes it against both lefties and righties. The breaking ball is tight and has great late action to it with a slider profile that is more prevalent now in baseball than ever. The pitch has a sharp break and stays in the tunnel with his fastball extremely well.
When thrown properly the gyroscopic spin of the ball pulls the pitch down hard towards the plate. The three best sliders from college pitchers in this draft all possess this spin profile. Madden could have a plus-plus slider like Sam Bachman and Kumar Rocker if he’s able to create more depth to the pitch and command it even better. Madden has a solid plus combo in his slider and fastball.
His command of both his fastball and slider down and glove side adds to the deception of both pitches. Being able to spot the ball down and across his body creates a unique tunneling action for the pitch as it comes out of his hand and stays on the downward plane. The slider bites late and dives down and into a LHBs back foot and away from the barrel of a RHB. The next evolution of both pitches is the ability to throw the fastball with better command to his arm side and throw the slider with even better command for a strike. The combo is disgustingly good when thrown with power and command and is the reason Madden is seen as a prospect that is likely to make the majors.
Madden rarely throws his curveball and he throws it more as an offering early in counts to keep hitters honest and try to steal a strike. With Madden’s ability to throw the pitch consistently for a strike or at the very least miss at the top of the zone. It could become an above-average offering for him just to sprinkle into his arsenal with his fastball and slider as a third pitch.
If the curveball doesn’t become a reliable third pitch then he needs his changeup to progress. It’s a fringe-average pitch that he could use really well for lefties. He almost exclusively threw the pitch to LHBs this season and used it sparingly. The pitch has traits of a quality changeup but he needs to generate confidence in the pitch if he is going to use it in pro ball. Whether it’s the curveball or changeup, Madden needs a reliable third pitch to emerge if he wants a chance to reach his potential as a starter for an MLB team.
At the end of the day Madden is the prototypical right handed power pitcher that MLB teams dream of on draft day. He has a smooth and effortless delivery and less injury risk than most. Madden throws a lethal fastball and slider combination that could make him at the very least a productive MLB reliever. The separator for Madden will be the improvement of his command and the development of a quality third pitch. Madden’s lesser risk for injury and his proven track record make him tantalizing as a prospect for teams as a 1st-round pick in this Draft.
A right-handed power pitcher with a plus-fastball-and-slider combo that will make him a productive MLB pitcher as a starter or reliever if he reaches the big leagues.
Ceiling: Carlos Carrasco
Floor: Daniel Bard
Draft Expectation: Top-15 pick