Maddux Bruns caught the attention of professional scouts this summer when he showed an increase in fastball velocity. The left-handed prep pitcher from UMS-Wright Preparatory School in Mobile, Alabama, reached 97 mph with his fastball, which was about 10 mph faster than what he was throwing one year ago.
The uptick in fastball velocity was an encouraging result for the 6-foot-2, 210-pound lefty, who’s the top left-hander in the 2021 prep class. It also caused scouts to peg Bruns as one of the best pitchers in the 2021 MLB draft.
Bruns will enter his senior season of high school baseball as a potential top-10 pick in July’s draft. Bruns embraces the draft attention and is eager to prove to scouts in the spring that he belongs in the conversation as the top prep hurler in the draft class.
“Honestly, I kind of expected it,” Bruns said. “This is what I’ve worked for my whole life. It’s what I’ve wanted. Now, I just need to keep going and running with it.”
Bruns throws a four-seam fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup from an over-the-top arm slot. He also has deception in his delivery that makes it hard for hitters to pick up the baseball out of his hand.
Opposing hitters struggle to hit his 12-6 curveball, while his hard slider features power and late-life. His changeup has the potential to develop into a respectable offering in the future.
Bruns’ top pitch is his fastball. Last year, Bruns was up to 88 mph with his four-seamer. After cleaning up his mechanics and adding about 25 pounds to his frame in the offseason, Bruns was up to 97 mph this summer. Once he flashed that high-90s velocity, Bruns received an influx of pro attention, he said.
“I think just cleaning up the arm action was a big thing for me,” Bruns said. “It was a little herky-jerky last summer. Towards the end of last summer, I started cleaning it up a bit. Also, focusing on some of the small things has helped. Instead of just trying to get strong, I’ve focused on what works better for me and learning my body and how it should move.”
Bruns started the summer showcase circuit off strong but struggled at times with his command as the summer moved along. Bruns believes his struggles have to do with his feel for his off-speed pitches.
He plans on “playing around with grips” in the offseason to develop more confidence in his secondary pitches, he said. He also feels he needs to do a better job of attacking hitters, he added.
“The command has to get better, but it is going to be better,” Bruns said. “That is my main focus is command. I want to mostly improve my command with my off-speed pitches.”
Bruns isn’t worried about the inconsistencies he displayed with his command this summer. He is using it as a learning experience to help him moving forward in his career.
“I think just mentally getting tougher from it and growing from the struggles is important,” Bruns said. “Having those tough outings earlier in my career and getting them out of the way now and figuring out what works for me is key. I think it will be positive for me.”
Burns is a Mississippi State commit. He is an Alabama native and grew up a fan of the Alabama Crimson Tide. He considered Alabama during the college recruiting process, but he felt Mississippi State was the best fit for him due to the program’s culture, winning tradition, and proven success developing pitchers for pro ball.
“The coaching staff is great, and you see the atmosphere they have – it’s different than any other baseball program,” Bruns said. “It’s a baseball-first school, and everybody supports the baseball program.”
Bruns believes he has two attractive options in front of him, whether he starts a pro career out of high school or attends Mississippi State next fall. Bruns isn’t letting the decision he will have to make next summer distract him. Instead, he hopes to finish his high school career on a positive note.
“I would like to go out there and win a state championship,” Bruns said. “I would just like to also go out there and be a good teammate and do whatever I can do to help the team win.”
Read more in-depth stories on top 2021 MLB draft prospects here.
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for six years. He’s interviewed 253 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.