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 Minor League News & Autograph Blog Home

Top Prospect Alert - Ryan Madson

By Schuyler Dombroske

DOB: 8/28/80, Age: 21, Height: 6’6’’, Weight: 200, Bats: L, Throws: R. Acquired: Phillies - Drafted in the 9th Round of the 1998 Draft (Valley View HS, Moreno Valley, CA). 2001 Stats: (High-A - Clearwater) 9-9, 3.90 ERA, 118 IP, 137 H, 4 HR, 49 BB, 109 K. 2002 Stats: (AA - Reading) 6-4, 3.20 ERA, 171 IP, 150 H, 11 HR, 53 BB, 132 K.
   Ryan Madson is slowly making his way through the Phillies system, and is exhibiting enough success at each level to be considered a reasonable rotation prospect. Madson, coming off a tremendous year at Reading in which he was in the top three in the league in wins (1), ERA (2), innings (3), and strikeouts (2), is a member of the “towering trio” of right-handed starters that the Phillies picked up in the 1998 and 1999 drafts (the other two being Brett Myers and Brad Baisley). With his stuff and makeup, he is going to be the middle one of the three in terms of projected success. Madson throws his fastball in the 91-95 mph range, and offsets that with a good overhand curve and a vastly improved changeup. His control has improved tremendously this year, dropping from 3.6 BB/9 last year to 2.8 at Reading, and he remained stingy with the longball, allowing less than 0.6 HR/9. He has the makings of an innings-eater, with sound mechanics and good control as his attributes. Before everyone gets too excited about a future ace in the making, Madson’s campaign at Reading is a bit deceiving, in my opinion. Pitchers, in general, have a great deal of control over walks and strikeouts. They have a slightly smaller degree of control over home runs, and a debatably smaller degree of control over base hits. Examining the difference between his 2001 and 2002 years, one finds that his BB/9 total dropped by roughly 0.8, his K/9 total dropped about 1.2, and his HR/9 figure rose by around 0.3. Therefore, it can be determined that, on average, Ryan Madson was around the plate more this year than last. His H/9 number, however, dropped over 2.0, which is exactly the opposite of what you would expect to have happened. Perhaps his defense was substantially better at Reading than it was at Clearwater, or maybe pitchers can control the number of “hits that aren’t homers” more closely than most data would have you believe, but my opinion is that Madson’s year had a fair share of luck involved. His statistics make him appear to be an ace-caliber prospect, when in reality, he is probably more of a mid-rotation guy.
     The Phillies have had a young core for a while now, but trading away Scott Rolen dealt a major blow to the short-term rebuilding hopes. They have the makings of an excellent young outfield in Burrell, Byrd, and Abreu, and Rollins and Anderson are reasonable players as well. The corners are fairly weak under the current alignment, but Jeremy Giambi could solve half of the problem rather quickly. Chase Utley is assumed to be the intermediate-term solution at the hot corner, and Mike Lieberthal might still have enough life to help out behind the plate for a few more years. The rotation picture is a bit more muddled, which does not bode particularly well for Ryan Madson. Vicente Padilla looked absolutely dominant at times in a very solid campaign, Randy Wolf bounced back with a great year (and he’s a lefty), Brett Myers is the anointed ace of the future, Bud Smith was the major booty from the Rolen deal, and Brandon Duckworth is reasonably entrenched as well, albeit less so than the other four. A moderately effective Terry Adams, a rehabbing Robert Person, and the youngster Brad Baisley are also hanging around as potential options. All of this means that Ryan Madson does not have a clear path to a rotation slot, but the Phillies are still bad enough so that they might not mind giving everyone a chance. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pick up fifteen starts or so in Philadelphia next year, and I think he is good enough to be in their rotation long-term. Madson, in my opinion, is going to become a slightly less effective version of Ben Sheets, which should be good enough to be a third or fourth starter for the Phillies in the future.


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