MLB Draft Report: One last look at Brady Singer and Nick Madrigal

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.

Two-Seam Fastball

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.

Slider

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.

Changeup

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.

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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.

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.

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Josh Nelson
Josh Nelson

Josh Nelson is the host and producer of the Sox Machine Podcast. For show suggestions, guest appearances, and sponsorship opportunities, you can reach him via email at josh@soxmachine.com.

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metasox

I like that Madrigal is a hitter teams cannot employ a shift against. In the era of metrics-based shifts, am a little surprised organizations haven’t placed more emphasis on that kind of approach.

sgp2204

Madrigal. Madrigal. Madrigal.

PauliePaulie

Fangraphs just released a Chat on their final Mock. They say “someone (in the draft room) who outranks everybody” wants Singer over Madrigal.
Dour

Milky✌️

I’ve just assumed they’d pick whoever I don’t prefer. I’d be more worried about a dark horse. At least either option here seems like a solid pick up. 

PauliePaulie

I would view it as another strike against them on their decision making. I don’t think Singer is anywhere near the same level as Madrigal. #4 starters aren’t that expensive.

lil jimmy

I think it was high ranking, not “out” ranks. Most of us want a position player. We just do. Madrigal looks to be that guy. If they choose Singer, I sure we will learn to love him. Nice job on this Slyder.
I think when the dust clears, it’s Madrigal by a nose.

jorgefabregas

At 14:55 of today’s podcast they say that it’s one person who has ultimate power who may pull rank:https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/fangraphs-audio-the-draft-episode/

If that means ownership, that’s not a good thing. If that means Kenny, it’s still not that good, but at least it’s a baseball person.

jorgefabregas

If it’s Hahn, then at least the chain of command seems more or less in tact, even if we don’t agree with the pick.

PauliePaulie

Hopefully Philly will decide they want a close to major League ready pitcher at under slot-instead of Bohm-to fit their timeline.

PauliePaulie

Hostetler did say in his last Garfien chat that JR will weigh-in. And when he does, they have to listen.(paraphrasing)

Marty34

Kenny as Pulford was bad enough, but this is worse than Bill Wirtz Hawks.

sgp2204

If it’s Hahn, I’m 100% on board. If it’s ANYBODY else, I’ll be extremely annoyed. 

Edit – More like 95% on board. I’ll be happy he has the power to do his job but slightly annoyed he’s not using all his resources. 

NateDPT12

I haven’t been able to listen to the clip yet. (I’m catching up on the 2nd season of Stranger Things with the wife.)That said, I still don’t totally get what Kenny’s job is. This is not a good sign if it means that Rick still doesn’t have to power to build the team the way he wants. 

PauliePaulie

And what if it’s Rick overruling the consensus of his scouts?

NateDPT12

That’s a different issue. You could say it’s unwise but it’s seemingly at least within his authority as GM.

Yes, Jerry would have that authority too but that’s why he hired a GM.

mikeyb

Madrigal’s swing terrifies me. He starts his stride so incredibly early. Guys who are good at hiding their offspeed stuff should (theoretically) be able to get a ton of soft contact out of him.

Of course, I’m not really sold on the pitchers either (Heimlich could end up being the best of all of them and I absolutely do not want the Sox near him). So basically, I think it’s gonna be a crapshoot. If Hostetler can make the right pick here, I’m going to be extremely impressed.

Otter

This is a great post and breakdown. Thanks Josh.

I’m of little opinion between the two, I guess I lean Madrigal, but this post is the most I’ve seen either one play, so my opinion isn’t worth much on that.

ALL THAT SAID… I don’t think the Sox are drafting either player at #4. My theory: the Sox take a high school kid at #4 on a prearranged deal to sign him under slot and then attempt to move Alek Thomas to 46th.

Thomas has everything the Sox love: child of an employee and local kid with tons of athleticism.

Who do they draft? My guess is either Jarred Kelenic or Matthew Liberatore at ~$4.4m; then move Thomas to #46 for $2.2 or so (the Sox are slotted for $6.4m and $1.6m at #4 and #46 respectively).

Why Liberatore? During yesterday’s game (Sunday) the name Matthew Liberatore showed up on the “top prospects” screen shot along with Mize, Bart, Bohm, Madrigal, and Singer. [thinking face emoji]

If Mize somehow falls to #4, I think he’d be the pick; but seems like his floor is #3. There seems to be decent scenarios where Madriagal is off the board before the Sox pick too.

Everyone has the Sox on Singer and then Madrigal. The Sox usually don’t work this way. They keep everything extremely close and in the past few drafts haven’t picked the guy that everyone has them linked to (Bukauskas or Kendall last year) and in 2016 there was late Collins buzz but also a lot of Rutherford and Dakota Hudson (along with Ray who was gone by their pick).

jorgefabregas

Hosteler spent a good amount of time on the White Sox’ tv broadcast talking about Zack Collins a day or two before they drafted him. I would assume the players being talked about on White Sox state media (television broadcast, Garfien podcast) that also match up with the ones they’re being tied to in other media are the ones they’re considering.

egib52

Madrigal and Singer do not really excite me, but I think part of it is just prospect fatigue. In fact most of the top 10 don’t. I kind of hope they go after Kelenic from everything I have heard, however, I also wanted Rutherford the most a couple of years ago.

Otter

But Schnell would be someone they’d try to push to #46 (like Thomas), not take a #4. Schnell’s looking at a $2m bonus at best… Sox would be much better off drafting one of the top prep arms/bats who are likely to go ~#8/10 and get a bonus in the neighborhood of $4m.

Gutteridge70

My solution for the most problematic of all major sports draft is for the Sox front office to invent a time machine send it 4 years into the future and look for the most Troutish player in 2022.That pick would would satisfy us all.

gusguyman

But where would he play with Tim Anderson being a CF by then?

lil jimmy

In four years we would be satisfied, but for the first three, we would be pissed off.