I’m going to jump straight to the point. Texas righty Ty Madden is exactly ‘how you draw ‘em up.’ At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, Madden has a big league body. He’s got a big league fastball. He’s got a big league track record. On the surface, it’s hard not to fall in love with the whole package. But then that wouldn’t be diving deep enough.
Let’s get into it.
A 34th round pick by the Kansas City Royals in 2018, Madden decided to go to school instead. He’s been ‘the dude’ at the University of Texas for a couple years now. From the moment he set foot on campus, Madden has been a force in the Longhorns rotation. He started 8 games in 2019 and 4 more in 2020.
His freshman campaign, Madden threw 42 innings, striking out 37 along the way. He’d hold the opposition to a .247 batting average whilst posting a 3.40 ERA. Madden walked 24 batters that year, a noteworthy issue for the Cypress, Texas product in his age-19 year.
Madden would go on to throw 27 innings in the Cape Cod League that summer -- a big, impressive number for a freshman. He’d post a 3.33 ERA, striking out 28, walking 12. A moderate improvement in both categories.
To this point, Madden was a guy throwing 90-92, touching 93. Not overwhelming.
Then he went to work.
Madden took to the bump in 2020, absolutely shoving. In four starts this season, the fastball sat 91-94, touching 95. In bullpens, he touched a couple 6s. In 2021, Madden has been up to 98, more comfortably sitting 92-96. The slider is sharper, and his changeup and curveball have both cleaned up as well. He;s turning into a more complete product.
Madden threw 25 innings in 2020, striking out 26 batters. He’d walk just four all season and hold hitters to a .196 average. It all culminated in a 1.80 ERA and 0.88 WHIP.
The guy had been rock solid at every stop. When he gets in trouble, he works out of it. His stuff has a big up arrow, and it’s a premier body to build on.
Madden has long arms, long legs, broad shoulders and a quick arm. He’s got a clean delivery, the arm is one time, and he generates a ton of power from his lower half. On a more technical side, he’s really cleaned up his operation since arriving to campus. Madden is really in-sync now and his tempo is under control. He generates a good bit of torque with impressive scapular load. Hand break is ideal as he begins to load into his back hip.
I’m a really big fan of Madden’s internal/external rotation and how he stays through his delivery. His hips and shoulders really work well together. He really coils into his back hip now and I believe these changes have really led to his improved control/command in 2020.
I do think there’s some more in the tank for Madden in that he doesn’t exhibit a ton of hip hinge as he works his way down the mound. A little more flexibility in that regard could allow the fastball to play up. Something to watch as he gets into a player development program.
All that said, it may be moot. Madden may not need “more” velo.
He seems to be shoving now.
Tools (Future Value)
In 2019, Madden had a fastball averaging 90.2mph, though he touched 92.7. In 2020, Madden had a fastball averaging 91.2mph, though he touched 94.7. This winter, Head Coach David Pierce said Madden hit 98 “numerous” times, and even touched 99. He’s proven that in games, touching 98 against Brigham Young.
The velo is impressive, there’s no two ways around it. And if we’re talking about a guy who’s going to average 95-96 on a nightly basis, he certainly falls into the ‘above average’ fastball bucket at worst.
That said, I have some concerns.
Although the velocity is there, the data behind his heater is not completely confidence-inducing.
In 2020, Madden threw 104 fastballs in stadiums fixed with a TrackMan unit (likely his two home starts against Boise State and Cal State Fullerton at Disch-Falk Field). The average spin rate on his fastball was just 2075 RPMs. He generated roughly four inches of arm-side run and 8.8 inches of vMOV. The spin rate is certainly below average, and the movement profile on both axes is fairly average.
You never want to discredit a guy that could flirt with triple-digits. That said, I’m not convinced this is a fastball, as it currently stands, that will be dominant “plus” at the big league level. It would help if Madden changed the spin direction of his heater closer to 1:00. As it stands, it can be hittable for advanced hitters if it’s not spotted well, and I think that shows in his not entirely dominant K-rates from 2020.
Madden has seen his stuff tick up a good bit in 2021, and that should go a long ways toward speaking confidence in his fastball to big league clubs.
For my money, Madden’s slider is his best pitch, and frankly, it’s not all that close. It’s an extremely gyro-centric breaking ball that falls off the table... as they say.
Madden’s slider possesses just two inches of sweep, but kills lift quite effectively. He spins it close to 2500 RPMs, a touch above average at the big league level. Moreover, Madden’s slider touched 88 in 2020, and comfortably sat close to 85 for most of the season. That’s a pretty firm breaking ball, and would tunnel quite well off the fastball.
Projecting out a bit, if Madden turns into the guy that sits 96-97 with an 87-88mph slider, especially one with this type of movement profile, that’s a pretty solid two-pitch mix. It’s also a combination that plays really well off each other.
And projecting here isn’t outlandish. The slider maybe took the biggest leaps forward from 2019 to 2020 of any of his pitches. He eliminated close to 2 inches of sweep on the pitch, and added 2 more inches of depth. If he stays on that trajectory even one more year, this is a plus slider through and through.
Madden only threw 10 curveballs on TrackMan-fitted fields in 2020, and never really dabbled with one in 2019, but it’s a promising pitch that could be crafted into an average offering.
Like his slider, Madden is able to exact 2400-2500 RPMs of spin on his curveball. He generates -6.5 inches of vMOV on the pitch, a fairly average, maybe a tick above average movement profile. His curveball also possesses 3.8 inches of sweep -- pretty fringy by big league standards. Of the ten he threw in 2020, they averaged just 75 mph, topping out of 77. That’s up a bit in 2021, touching 79.
All that said, he threw it just six percent of the time in 2020. It’s still a work in progress and not fully incorporated in his arsenal. The pitch data is encouraging across the board, and he does command the pitch well when he uses it. When he missed, it was generally a complete spike or he actually missed above the zone. It was almost always as the first pitch of an at-bat. All signs point to the potential for an average curveball at the next level, maybe a tick above even.
This is where my grade is going to differ from some others.
While he threw the curveball ten times, he deployed the cambio just nine times in TrackMan-fitted fields all season. The changeup certainly lags behind the other three offerings right now.
I was able to watch every single one of his pitches from his starts against Arkansas and Boise State from 2020, as well as a full start against West Virginia from 2019. I counted 20 changeups in those contests. He threw the changeup exclusively to lefties. I counted just two landing for strikes with almost all of them finishing above the belt. Feel for the pitch is lacking.
One promising part of the equation is Madden’s ability to kill spin. His changeup averaged just 1618 RPMs last year. That’s really good. But he’ll have to improve feel for control and command if it’s to become an out-pitch at the next level.
Velo on the pitch falls anywhere between 83 and 86, topping out at 88. All that said, the biggest issues with the pitch is it just doesn’t fade. The pitch has shown fairly impressive depth, but without that arm-side run I do wonder how effective it can be. Last year his changeup averaged -3.7 inches of hMOV. That’s well-below average. For now, it’s a one-plane-breaking pitch.
The result is an offering that will ‘cement mix’ too often if he doesn’t curate a better movement profile, let alone develop the feel for commanding the pitch. The changeup is going to be a project for Madden, and it will be interesting to see if it’s taken any strides in pro ball. His ability to induce low spin out of the hand is encouraging, but the other aspects needed on a changeup weren’t there in 2020.
Now, Pierce has said the changeup was a huge emphasis for Madden this fall, and reports are promising, but it’ll need to be shown in-game.
There’s a lot to like in Ty Madden as your prototypical big league arm. He’s got great size, an up arrow in projection, and comes with a proven track record from a Power 5 conference. The walks from his freshman year are something to keep an eye on in a full, 60-game season in 2021, though that issue may have been cleaned up in 2020.
The biggest question mark I have surrounding Madden and his ceiling is the arsenal itself. Anybody that throws strikes and can pump 95-96 with a plus slider is going to find success in some capacity at the big league level. The fastball has been really good in 2021 and appears to have a little more giddy up on it. Madden has top-of-the-rotation stuff if he continues to develop as anticipated.