This isnâ€™t the same Texas League Michael Madsen used to know.
After not exactly ripping through the high Class A California League last season with 6-11, 6.68 numbers in 121 innings at Stockton, the Athletics promoted the 2005 21st-round pick to Double-A Midland and there are no two ways about itâ€”he got raked.
In two starts, the 24-year-old righthander allowed 15 earned runs on 19 hits in just seven innings.
Not a nice way to go into the offseason.
But Madsen continued to work all winter to get stronger in his lower half and improve his secondary pitches. And even though the Ohio State productâ€™s outing Friday wasnâ€™t indicative of this seasonâ€”Madsen allowed a pair of runs on five hits in the Rock Houndsâ€™ 3-2 win against Wichitaâ€”the work has paid off.
â€œHe got hit around a little bit last year,â€ Athletics farm director Keith Lieppmann said. â€œBut to his credit, he put last year behind him and has a new focus. The stuff is relatively the same, I think heâ€™s just grown as a pitcher and really has an idea of how to work to his strengths.”
Madsenâ€™s stuff wonâ€™t blow anybody away. His fastball sits anywhere from 88-92 mph and tops out at 93, but he has outstanding command and two quality secondary pitches to keep hitters off balance.
â€œHe now understands what it means to pitch down in the zone,â€ Lieppmann said. â€œBefore, mid-thigh was â€˜downâ€™ for him. Now, everything is down, down, down at the bottom of the strike zone.â€
The emergence of Madsenâ€™s two-seamer has a lot to do with that success, but he also backs up his combination of fastballs with a plus changeup and an improving slider.
This season, Madsen is now 3-0, 1.75 with 43 strikeouts in 36 innings.
â€œHe just finds a way to get it done,â€ Midland third baseman Jeff Baisley said. â€œHe attacks the zone, heâ€™s aggressive and more than anything he outsmarts guys. Whether itâ€™s a ground ball or a strike out, he doesnâ€™t care–heâ€™ll just put hitters away.â€
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