Brock Vradenburg showed tremendous growth during his junior season at Michigan State this spring. The experience the slugging first baseman gained during his first two years and a successful stint playing in the Coastal Plain League last summer led to him showing an improved approach and demeanor as a junior.
Vradenburg was one of the top-performing hitters in college baseball. He hit .400 with 22 doubles, four triples, 13 home runs and 69 RBIs in 263 plate appearances. He also showed great plate discipline, with 36 walks compared to 34 strikeouts. His success has caused him to receive interest for July’s MLB draft.
“The whole year as a whole surprised me,” Vradenburg said. “I knew I could have a pretty good year. It was my third year in the Big Ten, so I kind of had some maturity and knew what to expect. I didn’t think I was going to have this kind of season. It gave me a lot of confidence going forward.”
Over the last three years, Vradenburg has gone from a lightly recruited high school player to a legitimate draft prospect. Scouts project Vradenburg as a likely early-round pick due to his offensive toolset and potential at the plate.
“I like to look back on what I was, especially my senior year of high school and freshman year of college,” Vradenburg said. “I joke around with coach (Graham) Sikes and tell him I don’t know what he saw in me in high school. But just seeing the way I grew and matured is cool. It was a rollercoaster my freshman and sophomore year, and then junior year, I just took a deep breath.”
Vradenburg also credits his development to former MLB outfielder Adam Eaton, who joined the Michigan State coaching staff as its director of player development in September 2022.
Eaton played 10 years in the major leagues and played a key role in the Washington Nationals winning the World Series in 2019. His experience allowed him to provide insight to Michigan State players in all facets of the game. Vradenburg capitalized on Eaton’s presence on the coaching staff and regularly sought his advice.
“Coach Eaton was a blast to have,” Vradenburg said. “When you get a 10-plus year major-leaguer, it was an awesome experience. I wanted to suck as much information out of him. I bet towards the end of the year I was one of the most annoying guys on the team because I was always asking him questions. But I wanted to learn anything and everything from him.”
Vradenburg is a 6-foot-7, 230-pound left-handed hitter known for his offensive tools. He uses simple mechanics and a short, compact swing to drive the ball to all parts of the field. Vradenburg can hit for average and power. As he gained more experience, he improved his plate discipline at Michigan State.
His improved approach and ability to backspin baseballs led to his offensive tools taking a step forward this spring.
“For me, my ability to control the strike zone and not chase a lot of pitches sets up success for me in future at-bats,” Vradenburg said. “I’m not looking for too much at the plate. I want to make sure I am swinging at strikes and taking the balls, to simply put it.”
Defensively, Vradenburg has quality athleticism for his size and moves well latterly. He is an average defensive first baseman.
As Vradenburg prepares for the next step in his baseball career, he wants to add strength to his frame and continue to refine his approach at the plate. He will work out for major league teams and participate in the MLB Draft Combine in the weeks leading up to the draft.
“I say this humbly, but I believe I have scratched the surface on what I can do, and that is on me to do the work for it,” Vradenburg said. “I want to evolve myself into a better hitter each day.”
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Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for eight years. He has interviewed 433 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com, The Arizona Republic and The Dallas Morning News, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.