AU Baseball Goes West For Pitching Help

Auburn needs immediate help on the mound and could get it from this junior college pitcher/outfielder from California.

San Jacinto, Calif.--The Auburn Tigers are looking for immediate help on the mound for the 2010 baseball season and they're hoping it will come from their newest signee Drew Madrigal from Mount San Jacinto College. A 6-2 1/2, 205-pound right-hander/outfielder, Madrigal says he's excited about the opportunity to play for Auburn in the Southeastern Conference coming from the West Coast.

"I went there three weeks ago," Madrigal says of his visit for the Ole Miss weekend. "I tried to stay as open-minded as possible. I have always been in Cali (California) my whole life, but the short time I was there I loved it. I met with the coaches and the players. The atmosphere around their sports and how the fans were passionate about it, that's kind of what got me excited to go play there. Just how the community is involved with the sport is just huge.

"Competing in the SEC is a huge reason I decided to commit there," he adds. "It's one of the best conferences in the country. Every day you play you have to come with you're A-Game or you'll get beat. I love the atmosphere out there. Being able to compete with the Tigers and go out there and pitch and compete for a starting pitching job is something I'm looking forward to."

Choosing the Tigers over a host of schools including USC, UC-Irvine, North Dakota, and North Carolina State, Madrigal says when it came down to making a decision the thoughts of playing at Auburn were too much of a good thing for him to pass up.

"When I visited it made it an easy decision to make," Madrigal says. "I have lived in California my whole life so when I went there I was a little worried I wouldn't like it. I definitely like it a lot."

Struggling on the mound this season, finishing with a team ERA of just 6.06, Auburn was in particular need of some help in a starting role. That's something that Madrigal says made the Tigers an even bigger favorite for him.

"It was big in my decision," Madrigal says. "I checked out two or three games while I was there and I feel like hard work and what I bring to the table, I could be an impact player. I'm ready to get to work and get it started."

A two-year starter for Mount San Jacinto, he was 9-4 on the mound in 2009 with a 2.50 ERA. He also added seven home runs and hit .415 as an outfielder. As a freshman he was 6-1 with a 1.50 ERA. Playing both ways as a sophomore, Madrigal says he's looking forward to having that opportunity at Auburn as well.

"They want me to go out and compete for a spot in the outfield as well," Madrigal says. "That was another reason why I decided to commit there. I like to hit so when I'm not pitching I want to be in the lineup every day."

While he'll have a shot to play in the outfield, his first order of business will be to help bolster the pitching staff. Without a true power pitcher on the team, Madrigal says he'll have the chance to fill that role next season.

"I throw three pitches, fastball, curveball and change up," he notes. "My strength would have to be my movement on my fastball. I'm usually anywhere from 89-93 and top out at 94 MPH with a lot of sink. For me it's not so much my tools that are my strength, it's my mentality. I'm real competitive. Just the thought of someone crossing home plate on me makes me mad. I hate the thought of losing. I pitch with my heart and I leave everything on the field."

A native of Paloma, Calif., Madrigal will likely have another decision to make in June. The Foothill Conference Player of the Year and a two-time All-Conference selection, he has a great chance to be drafted in the Amateur Baseball Draft coming up. He says while he'll have a tough choice, playing at Auburn is definitely something that is on his mind at the moment.

"I'm kind of open-minded with that," Madrigal says. "I'm going to wait and see where it goes. Visiting there really opened my eyes. I think it would be great to go and get better there and pitch a year in the SEC and get drafted even higher the next year. I guess we'll just wait and see what happens with the draft."

Commenting on the signee, Auburn coach John Pawlowski says, "Drew is a special talent that will help our pitching staff immediately. He had a tremendous year against quality competition in the California Junior College ranks. He led the all of California Junior College in strikeouts and helped his team reach the final eight in the playoffs. He proved to be a powerful, durable starting pitcher all season for Mount San Jacinto."

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