Lakeland, Fla. — If the coaches thought they were going to ambush him, sending up three players who have a chance to reach the big leagues this season in his first live batting practice of Tigers minicamp, well, they picked the wrong dude.
Right-hander Ty Madden, the 32nd overall pick in the draft last July, didn’t blink an eye Wednesday. He struck out Riley Greene, Spencer Torkelson and Ryan Kreidler in quick order — not even reaching the 15-pitch limit.
“That was exciting,” he said. “I hope I get to face them every time.”
Typically on the first day hitters face live pitching, they take a few pitches, just track the ball into the catcher’s glove before they start hacking. Not this time. Greene stepped in and swung hard and tardy at the first pitch — an elevated fastball.
“Oh yeah,” Madden said, smiling. “When Greene took G-hacks on the first four pitches, I was ready to go.”
Velocity readings were not available, but Madden, who has been clocked as high as 99 mph and sat last season between 94-96, had all three hitters swinging late on his fastball — a downhill four-seamer — and fending off his slider.
“It’s early, though,” Madden said. “Those guys have been here for three days. But my body feels good. I’m ready to go.”
It was the first time Madden faced an actual hitter since he threw his final pitch for the University of Texas last June in the College World Series — the day he was beaten by Mississippi State, 2-1.
“I hadn’t faced a hitter in a Tigers’ uniform yet, so it was good to get someone in the box,” he said. “I felt good — nice hot day, got a good sweat going. It felt good.”
Madden, who turned 21 on Monday, didn’t know who he’d be facing until the schedule was posted in the morning.
“I sort of had an idea,” he said. “But I loved it. It was fun…Those guys, they’re good. They’re elite. Just the way they carry their business is professional and I like it. I like being around them.”
The Tigers other first-round pick, right-hander Jackson Jobe (No. 3 overall) also threw to hitters for the first time since his high school season ended last spring.
He dispatched the first two hitters — Andres Lipcius and Cristian Santana — but 19-year-old shortstop Manuel Sequera, a right-handed hitter, got the barrel on a high, inside pitch and poleaxed it down the line and over the fence in left.
Not that it counts, but Jobe didn’t give up a single home run in little league, summer ball or high school. So that was a little new for him.
“Welcome to pro ball, I guess,” he said. “Everything felt great. Fastball, need to work on a little bit of shape and efficiency. We just talked to some of the pitching guys about it. But besides that, just overall command needs to improve.
“Obviously, first time facing hitters, that’s kind of how it goes. But I feel good overall.”