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The saying goes where there is smoke; there is fire. Often this expression is used with baseball rumors, and when it comes to tomorrow’s MLB Draft, there is a massive cloud of smoke tying Florida RHP Brady Singer to the White Sox. Last time I wrote a report about Singer was his February 23rd start against Miami, and I figured it would be worthwhile to provide an update.
Let me start by saying that Brady Singer is good. If I were a college coach and needed to pick a starting pitcher to win a National Championship, I’d have Singer on the mound over Casey Mize. When the moment is more significant, Singer meets the challenge and raises his game which is why I think the White Sox think very highly of him. The issue I’ve seen from Singer is when the moment isn’t big, or he’s facing a deep lineup like Arkansas, his performance slips. I didn’t see that from Mize this year, hence why he’s most likely going number one overall, and Singer won’t.
One of my favorite resources this year has been D1Baseball, which if you’re a college baseball fan I highly recommend signing up for a subscription. Before the season started, they tried to develop a ranking system using advanced metrics for pitchers. Below is their grading evaluation.
Criteria for pitchers were broken into three categories: Zone Control (K%, BB%, HB+WP%), Pitchability (ERA, WHIP, OppAVG, OppSLG), and Durability (GS and IP). Players’ scores were weighted by their school’s strength of schedule to correct for varying levels of difficulty within Division I. Non-Division I players are not included because their data differed significantly from the rest of the players in the Top 100. Data was taken from the 2016 & 2017 NCAA seasons and the 2017 Cape Cod League season. The grades for each statistic were weighted and combined into a category grade. These category grades were then weighted again and combined into a final grade.
MLB teams are doing something very similar to help better understand what their scouts see from the field. I like this model because these stats are what I’m looking for in box scores to determine if it’s worth my time to watch a starter to gauge their worth. Using D1Baseball’s analytic rankings for starters, Brady Singer ranks as the fifth best college starter. First? Of course, Casey Mize.
Now the grumbling you hear from the background are White Sox fans who don’t want their favorite team to spend the fourth pick of this year’s draft on a starting pitcher. Especially one that sounds awful like Carson Fulmer. Add in that Singer analytics-wise is the fifth best starting pitcher, not second (Logan Gilbert), or third (Nick Sandlin), or even fourth best (Luke Heimlich). Why would the White Sox take the fifth best college starter in a world where analytics drive how 25-man rosters are created?
For one, the difference between Gilbert and Singer is one point, which is slim in this calculation. Second, I think Singer has one of the best two-seam fastballs in this class, and he is tunneling the slider and changeup well from his arm slot. The White Sox could be drafting a pitcher with three plus pitches. That could help Singer be ahead of the development curve compared to pitchers like Alec Hansen and Dylan Cease who are still learning how to command a third pitch.
Singer’s two-seamer has an impressive horizontal movement that runs 92-94 mph. Above is video from his February start against Miami where you can visualize what right-handed hitters deal with. Against righties, Singer’s tendency is either use the two-seam to establish a first-pitch strike on the outside corner or bust them inside on the hands. Lately, Singer has been using a four-seamer to get inside on hitters who might be trying to jump a fastball on the outer half of the plate.
Against lefties, Singer has found success getting the fastball to tail away from hitters, and often fooling them into thinking that the pitch is inside but ends up down the middle as shown in the video below.
Good late breaking action that Singer uses when ahead in the count. I like his slider a lot more than his curve which he would often not get enough spin on it and just hung up in the zone. Got away with it against lesser competition but won’t in the minors.
Singer’s changeup initially looks like his two-seamer. Good movement with a bit of sink, and has been an effective pitch for Singer when he’s looking to induce a ground ball.
Singer overall had a solid outing against Jacksonville in Saturday’s NCAA Regional. After missing the last series against Mississippi State and the SEC Tournament with hamstring tightness, Singer threw seven innings allowing five hits, two earned runs, and striking out six with one walk. It wasn’t a consistent performance throughout the night as he pitched himself into trouble in the fifth inning and allowed a solo home run in the seventh. Singer hit two batters when ahead in the count and was 16-for-27 in throwing first strikes to hitters. Again, solid outing but if this were the first time you saw Singer you would be scratching your head on why teams think he’s a Top 5 pick. He’s been better this season.
Another name attached to the Draft rumor cloud for the White Sox is Nick Madrigal. I wrote a lengthy scouting report about Madrigal on April 30th. With Oregon State hosting Regionals, the Beavers have put on quite the show both offensively and defensively. I think Madrigal and OF Trevor Larnach are first-rounders with SS Cadyn Greiner a second-round talent. They have too much talent not to make the Super Regionals and would be heavy favorites to reach Omaha for the College World Series.
Offensively this weekend Madrigal has been a menace to opposing pitchers. In Game 1 against Northwestern State University, Madrigal was 3-for-5 with a double and four RBI. Yesterday against LSU, Madrigal was 2-for-4 with three runs scored, walked, and hit a solo home run.
OSU’s Nick Madrigal has a weird practice swing, still hits a bomb pic.twitter.com/3XrbdnIr5W
— Born Salty (@cjzero) June 3, 2018
Add it up, and Madrigal is 5-for-9 with a double, home run, five RBI, HBP, BB, and zero strikeouts. I felt after April Madrigal had the best bat to ball skills out of all hitters in the class, and he keeps proving it. Sure, some of his base hits are the soft type finding an opening between the right fielder and second baseman, but I’ve seen Madrigal do this many times that I’m confident in saying this is a skill.
Madrigal is also continuing to hit where he’s being pitched and putting the barrel on the ball. He doesn’t have any pull tendencies which would make it impossible to shift against him. For bonus points in my scouting book, Madrigal has the Tadahito Iguchi bat flip down.
One area I have been focusing is Madrigal’s defense this weekend. Specifically his ability to help turn the double play with Greiner. There were two opportunities this weekend to watch Madrigal in action with this scenario. First, a chance to start the double play.
As you can see in the video above, Madrigal was able to field the grounder on one bounce cleanly, but it wasn’t the quickest transition to second base. LSU’s Daniel Cabrera can move down the line in a hurry, and despite Greiner’s arm strength, they couldn’t turn the double play. A difficult chance but something for Madrigal to work on in the next level.
Now, when the roles are reversed is when Madrigal impresses. On a grounder hit deep into the hole towards the third base side, Greiner makes a great throw to second, and Madrigal has a better transition to first.
Mercy. I’m not entirely sure if Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada could have pulled that one off, and I think they are an excellent double-play tandem. Madrigal is not afraid of contact, and it showed by holding his ground while still making a strong throw to first base. I’ve seen plenty of good plays this weekend from the NCAA Regionals, but this double play was the most Major League-like.
If this weekend were the first time you saw Nick Madrigal in action, you’d be wondering why the White Sox wouldn’t take him fourth overall. Honestly, he hasn’t had better weekends this season, and I wonder if his broken wrist is fully healed. Just in time for another deep postseason run for the Beavers.
I hope we see Singer vs. Madrigal matchup in Omaha, but right now there is a heated debate in the draft room at Guaranteed Rate Field.