Pirates 2018 Draft Preview: Nick Madrigal
The draft is six months away and the Pirates will be picking in the top 10 for the first time since 2013, when they selected Austin Meadows with the compensation pick they received after failing to sign Mark Appel the year prior. It’s a chance for the Pirates to add a future impact player.
The 2018 MLB Draft will take place on June 4th, and the Pirates will pick number 10 overall. College baseball starts in a little over a month on February 16th, and there’s quite a few college players to keep an eye on for picks number 10 and 31, the Pirates first round pick and competitive round A pick. A lot can happen between now and June in terms of rise and fall of prospects, but for now a quick look at the top prospects can provide players to track for the next half-year.
Nick Madrigal, second baseman at Oregon State, is probably the best hitter in the NCAA. The 2017 Golden Spikes nominee is a likely frontrunner to win the award in 2018. The Beaver middle infielder stands at only 5’7″ and 161 pounds according to Beavers website. His stature shouldn’t deter his draft position, as Dustin Pedroia at 5’9″ and 175 pounds was taken in the second round in 2004, and as MLB Pipeline notes the success of Jose Altuve winning the 2017 American League MVP with his 5’6″ and 165 pound frame.
MLB Pipeline currently ranks Madrigal as the number 11 prospect in the draft, and Baseball America ranks him as the fourth best college prospect. His size so far has not had an impact on his public draft ranking, and that’s mainly because the results speak for themselves. The Beavers 2017 number two hitter has hit .359 in his time in Corvallis, and has seen his power increase from his Freshman to Sophomore season:
Madrigal may never turn into a home run threat, MLB Pipeline gives him a 40 grade on power, but the hit tool is there. Madrigal makes solid contact and hits the ball to the gap. Unlike past college middle infielders the Pirates have taken, Madrigal uses a high leg kick and gets his bat quickly through the zone to drive the ball hard. While the preseason first team All American has increased his power (ISO) by 0.029 points, he hasn’t made a tradeoff in strikeouts:
Madrigal decreasing his strikeouts, increasing his walk rate, and increasing his extra base hit rates is a nice sight to see from the soon to be 21-year-old Junior. But it’s not just the impressive contact rate and the quality of contact, Madrigal also has speed to steal bases. In his Freshman season he stole eight bags, and he followed that up by swiping 16 last season as a Sophomore. In fact, Madrigal stole the same amount of bases as he struck out, and for his collegiate career has 24 stolen bases and 30 strikeouts. Adding a player who can steal 15-20 bases and can take the extra base out of the shortstop or second base position would be an added bonus to the other offensive and defensive contributions they provide.
Next: 37 Days Until Spring Training
Madrigal might not be available at pick 10, as Baseball America has him going number nine to the Oakland Athletics, Jonathan Mayo has him going five to the Cincinnati Reds, and Jim Callis has him going to Oakland. If Madrigal keeps producing like he did in his Freshman and Sophomore seasons, the chance he will be there becomes even slimmer. However, if he is, the Pirates should take a hard look at drafting one of the best hitters in the draft, especially one that plays the middle infield.
*Numbers from the Baseball Cube