Ty Madden had the luxury of learning from former University of Texas at Austin and major-league right-hander Huston Street last season. It was an invaluable experience for Madden, who is entering his third year at Texas this spring.
Street was a three-time All-American and the MVP of the 2002 College World Series at Texas. He then went on to play 13 seasons in the major leagues. Street, a student assistant at Texas last season, helped Madden, a right-handed pitcher, with his mental approach to the game. He also gave Madden advice on his pitches and mechanics.
Learning from Street, who dominated opposing hitters at the college and professional levels throughout his career, paid dividends in Madden’s development.
“He pulled me aside and told me that my stuff was good but that if I want to succeed at the next level and make a lot of money that I have to lock in on my command,” Madden said. “He said if I can’t consistently hit one part of the plate, then I shouldn’t be trying to work on all the other ones. That was a reality check, and we just worked on one spot and hitting that over and over again.”
Madden is a “completely different pitcher” than he was in high school, he said. He’s tweaked his mechanics and pitches while his mental approach to the game has grown. His adjustments have allowed him to develop into one of the top pitchers in college baseball.
In high school, Madden played alongside friend and current Sam Houston State outfielder Colton Cowser, a top 2021 draft prospect. Both drew some professional interest, with Madden in the mix to be a potential top-10-round pick in the 2018 draft.
The Kansas City Royals drafted Madden in the 34th round, but he honored his commitment to Texas, where he’s developed into a potential first-round pick for July’s draft.
“I feel like in high school, I was not as mature, and it weighs on you more because you have that decision of whether to go to school or pro,” Madden said. “Now, the second time through, I have realized that no matter how much you stress about it, it doesn’t make a difference. I need to control what I can control and take it day by day. If I perform well, it should end up pretty good.”
Madden made an impact as a freshman in 2019. He split time between the bullpen and starting rotation and posted a 3.40 ERA with 37 strikeouts and 24 walks allowed in 42 1/3 innings.
He took a step forward last year with his command and control. He pitched exclusively as a starter and was off to a strong start before the college season ended prematurely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He recorded a 1.80 ERA with 26 strikeouts and just four walks allowed in 25 innings.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound right-hander throws from an over-the-top arm slot that creates some deception for opposing hitters. Madden throws a four-seam fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup. His fastball sits in the low-90s and tops out at 96 mph.
Madden relies heavily on his fastball and uses his slider as his outpitch. He spent the fall season experimenting with his slider, throwing it at different velocities to see how it would react. He has made strides with his 12-6 curveball throughout his collegiate career and uses it later in the count to catch hitters off-balanced.
“My mental approach is my biggest strength right now,” Madden said. “My ability to just slow the game down and take things pitch by pitch. I am pretty strict with my routine, and am a pretty detailed person. I think that is something that is only going to help me as I move along.”
Madden’s changeup is an evolving pitch. It was his second-best offering out of high school, but he changed the grip early in his college career after he started throwing a four-seam fastball instead of a two-seamer. In the offseason, Madden switched back to using the two-seam split changeup grip he successfully used in high school. He hopes the change in grips can allow him to have more consistency with the pitch this spring, he said.
Besides his changeup, Madden is working on simplifying his mechanics. He also wants to incorporate his lower half more into his delivery. He believes the mechanical changes will allow him to experience better command this spring.
“I really focused on getting my hands moving,” said Madden on his mechanical tweaks. “I feel like in the past my hands have got stuck at the top of my leg lift, so I have incorporated a small glove tap to get me going. Posture throughout my delivery is also something I looked at and I was a little hunched over at the top of my delivery. I also worked my balance in my delivery.”
This season, Madden has high expectations for himself. He hopes to continue to refine his skills on the mound while leading Texas deep into postseason play. The Longhorns enter the season as one of the top teams in the country and are in search of the program’s first national title since 2005.
“We talk about the five championships throughout this program’s history,” Madden said. “For myself, I want to be looked at as the best pitcher in college baseball this year. I want to win the Golden Spikes Award. I think if I can win that and lead this team to a national championship. I will be satisfied with this year.”
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.