Name: Warner Madrigal
Position: Relief Pitcher
DOB: March 21, 1984
This article was originally featured on FuturesHalos.com on August 15, 2007.
The Dominican Republic native came into the Angels system as a hitter when he signed in July of 2001. He saw 301 games in the outfield and at the plate, hitting .369 in the Pioneer League for Provo in 2003.
That would be the highlight of his career.
Never one to draw a walk, Warner Madrigal's hitting prowess was tied heavily to his batting average. And while he secured quite a few doubles, the 23-year-old was not able to turn the power numbers up a notch, hitting 15 homers for Cedar Rapids in 2005.
He began his third year in the Midwest League last season and his numbers dipped even further across the board. The Angels had been enamored with his arm and decided to try him out on the mound.
It was a smart move.
"I always knew I would be moving to the mound and I was pretty happy to move there," he said.
Madrigal went 2-1 with a 3.75 ERA over 12 games last season for the AZL Angels, saving five games while fanning 13 in 12 innings. An off-season of focusing on pitching ensued and the right-hander found his groove.
It would be easy to envision the conversion taking time. But things seemed to come aligned quickly for the hard-throwing right-hander.
"My first time throwing last year my mechanics were good," Madrigal said. "I don't know how but they were very good."
While the 2007 season marked his fourth season in Cedar Rapids, things have been vastly different. Armed with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s, Madrigal has used his finest tool to his advantage.
"I throw fastball, four-seam and two-seam, a slider and changeup," Madrigal explained. "It hasn't been that difficult. Everything is good. My fastball is 95-96 MPH. Last year, I was throwing 95-97."
That may be an understatement.
Madrigal has been a trooper, working in 47 games and posting a 5-3 record with 14 saves and a 2.21 ERA. He has struck out 64 batters in 53 innings while giving up 40 hits.
And his numbers are even better than that. Since posting a 4.15 ERA over his first 19 outings, Madrigal is touting a 0.86 ERA over his last 28 appearances. Over that span, totaling 31.1 innings, the righty has given up just two earned runs and 14 hits while fanning 43.
"I don't miss hitting," a laughing Madrigal said.
The numbers are certainly encouraging but there is some work to do. He is not fond of the 20 walks he has yielded.
"I am working hard on throwing the ball down in the zone," Madrigal added.
Given the amount of success he has had with just one season of pitching under his belt it is not hard to dream about how good he can be.
Repertoire: Fastball, Slider, Changeup.
Madrigal is armed with one of the system's best fastballs. The pitch sits in the mid-90s and can top out at 97-98 MPH. The right-hander features both the two- and four-seam varieties. He also throws a slider, which has quickly become an above-average pitch, to go along with an improving changeup. Though he has been pitching for just two years, Madrigal has shown a good feel for pitching. Madrigal commands his stuff fairly well and he figures to improve as he gains more experience on the mound.
Projection: Madrigal could have a career as a late-inning reliever in the major leagues. The righty certainly has the stuff, but he has pitched only one full season – at the Single-A level – and he has a ways to go. Madrigal and fellow closer Brennan Garr are easily the top two relief prospects in the organization. Both pitchers work off a power fastball-slider combination and they could be fighting for the same job in the Rangers bullpen within a couple of seasons.
2008 Outlook: The Rangers were more than happy to add another top pitching prospect when Madrigal became available during the offseason. Madrigal's former club – the Angels – failed to add him to the 40-man roster before the deadline. Because Madrigal had been in the Angels' system for six years (he spent the first four as an outfielder), the hurler became a free agent when the World Series ended on October 28. As far as his 2008 season, Madrigal will probably make the short jump to High-A Bakersfield to begin the year. The prospect figures to close out games for the Blaze. Madrigal is polished and could make a move up to Double-A Frisco before the season is over.