The Detroit Tigers selected Texas right-hander Ty Madden with their compensatory round pick, No. 32 overall, in Competitive Balance Round A of Sunday night’s 2021 MLB draft.
Madden, 21, was the second pick by the Tigers in the draft. They picked Heritage Hall High School (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) right-handed pitcher Jackson Jobe with the No. 3 overall pick. According to MLB Pipeline, Jobe and Madden were ranked as the seventh- and ninth-best players available entering the draft.
The second round, which Detroit holds the No. 39 overall pick, begins at 1 p.m. Monday as part of the All-Star Game festivities in Denver.
“We got two great pitchers today,” Tigers amateur scouting director Scott Pleis said late Sunday night. “Sometimes getting the best player fits into the picks in the draft, and it just happened to do that this time. … We were surprised that (Madden) fell that far.”
At 6 feet 3 and 215 pounds, Madden posted a 2.45 ERA, 44 walks and 137 strikeouts in 113⅔ innings over 18 starts this season and was the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year. His strikeout total was the most in a single season by a Texas pitcher since J.P. Howell in 2014. He logged a 2.59 ERA across 181 innings (37 games, 30 starts), with 72 walks and 200 strikeouts, in his three-year college career.
Madden was previously drafted in the 34th round by the Kansas City Royals in 2018. He now hits 95 mph with his fastball and has reached 99 mph. His fastball and slider are graded as advanced pitches, followed by his change-up. His curveball remains a project.
“I saw him early in the spring, and I probably saw his best game,” Pleis said. “He really threw well. A competitor, great arm, good slider, shows a good change-up too, and just kind of a workhorse guy on the mound with a great competitive edge to him.”
Why it makes sense
The Tigers are eyeing the postseason, possibly as soon as 2022, so snagging a college pitcher makes more sense than a high school pitcher. The organization ended up with one of each, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Many evaluators viewed Madden as a top-15 pick — but the Tigers got him at No. 32 overall. Based on his velocity and control of his fastball and slider, he seems ahead of the curve in his maturity on the mound. This bodes well for the Tigers if they’re looking for MLB-ready help. It’s unrealistic to project Madden’s big-league debut for 2022, but he could be around by 2023.
Why it’s a risk
The biggest concern surrounding Madden is what comes after his fastball and slider. His change-up needs some development, and if there isn’t growth, he could wind up as a two-pitch reliever. The Tigers, however, hope he becomes a starting pitcher in the majors. For Madden to dominate, even as he works on his change-up and curveball and continue showcasing his above-average command.
Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning — the youngest members of the Tigers’ starting rotation — only recently learned the importance of locating pitches against the best hitters in the world. Surely, Madden will go through those same growing paints. But he has a track record of success, so the Tigers believe they found one of the biggest steals in the draft.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.