'Perfect organization for me': Texas RHP Ty Madden not sweating draft fall to Tigers
One nice part about adding Ty Madden to their pitching stable, which as far as the Tigers were concerned was all about his pitching talent, was his disposition toward Detroit.
“Perfect organization for me,” said Madden, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound redshirt sophomore from Texas who was expected by most draft analysts to be closer to a top-15 choice. “They’ve got a great reputation for developing college pitchers, and I think it’s the perfect spot.”
Madden, the 32nd overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft on Sunday night, was Big 12 pitcher of the year in 2021 after pitching in 18 games for the Longhorns, meshing a 2.45 ERA with a 1.01 WHIP. He worked 113.2 innings, allowing but 75 hits, while striking out 137 and walking 44.
“To be honest, we were surprised he fell that far,” said Scott Pleis, who directs amateur scouting for the Tigers. “He’s got a great arm, with a good slider, and he shows a change-up, too. He’s just kind of a workhorse on the mound with a great competitive edge to him.”
Madden is viewed as having a mid-90s fastball, a plus slider, and durability that the Tigers believe could, and should, translate into deeper-innings starts.
Madden conceded that he was “a little surprised in the beginning” that he lasted so deeply into Sunday night’s selections. The hangup was believed to be a money issue, revolving around some tense discussions between various clubs and Madden’s agent.
But he downplayed any issues Monday, focusing instead on why a heavy Astros fan was excited to work with ex-Astros manager AJ Hinch, now skippering the Tigers, as well as pitching coach Chris Fetter.
“I’m pumped to meet him and work with him,” he said of Hinch, adding that he was aware of Fetter’s “great reputation” and how Tigers coaches and tutors could help in sharpening his secondary pitches and fastball command.
He wasn’t sure, until Sunday night’s chatter hinted at Detroit’s pursuit, that he was Tigers-bound.
“I knew they liked me early in the year,” Madden said. “I wasn’t in touch with them a crazy amount. But I knew they scouted me and really liked me.”
Much has been made about Madden’s over-the-top delivery, a benefit if pitches can be kept lower in the strike zone. But if a fastball stays up in the zone, the fastball’s angle can invite hitters to tee off, sometimes for long-distance launches.
“With my arm slot and downward angle, my four-seam plays really well at the bottom of the zone,” Madden said. “We didn’t (target) the top of the zone a lot this year. But, it (his fastball) can run pretty downhill, and at the second have late life.”
An area scout from a prominent National League team said he believed Madden could be best-utilized by the Tigers out of Detroit’s bullpen — all because of Madden’s “12-to-6” downward delivery.
The scout said Madden’s fastball-slider combination was 60-grade (a high mark on scouts’ 80-grade scale) but that his motion could make it more difficult for Madden to add the essential third-pitch change-up that he would need as a starter.
Madden’s mechanics were compared with those of Jack Leiter, the draft’s second-overall pick by Texas, in a recent Baseball America article by J.J. Cooper.
“I liked the article,” Madden said. “But I really don’t pay a lot of attention to those studies. I think numbers show the success (he’s had at Texas)."
Madden was listed ninth on MLB Pipeline’s pre-draft top-10 prospects list, while Jackson Jobe, the Tigers’ first-round pick, placed seventh. They are the first top-10 Pipeline talents to be drafted by one team since the Astros selected Alex Bregman, Daz Cameron and Kyle Tucker in 2015.
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Lynn Henning is a freelance writer and former Detroit News sports reporter.