College : : Story
Monday, February 26, 2018

Quick Take: Oregon State

Mike Rooney        
Photo: Scobel Wiggins

Perfect Game College Player Database

During the season Perfect Game scouts will be traveling to some of the top series to watch the very best players in college baseball. Those observations, captured with both written notes and video, will be shared in the College Player Database as linked above, notes that can also be accessed on the players' individual PG profile pages. Throughout the season select reports will be shared in feature format to promote the players, the teams and college baseball as a whole.

Oregon State Beavers

What Happened: The Beavers went 8-0 on their annual two-week stint to Arizona, dismantling a solid group of opponents (Cal Poly, New Mexico, Gonzaga, Ohio State, Nebraska) by a combined score of 75-28. This team left opponent after opponent rattled and breathless as they overwhelmed them with a relentless array of talent and skill.

Carrying Tool: Oregon State deploys a Swiss-Army position player group that is capable of winning any kind of game. There is power, little game execution and speed, and it is all capped off with an endless grinding out of tough at-bats. They have an offense for all occasions. In addition to leaving opposing pitchers in a heap of humanity, this group also specializes in run prevention with its elite defensive chops; Cadyn Grenier and Nick Madrigal form the best middle infield in the country. 

Concerns: Health is the big concern as stars Nick Madrigal and Adley Rutschman are currently on the shelf with injuries. While there is no replacing those two players, especially Madrigal, the Beavers bring a ton of roster depth to the party.

Best Player on the Field: Nick Madrigal can do anything on a baseball field. He brings five tools in a 5-foot-8 package and his outstanding tools don’t even tell the whole story. His baserunning and feel for the biggest moments in the game stand out. He is simply the best player on the field every time out.

Fearless Forecast: The Beavers will be in Omaha in June but they won’t go 56-6 this year. Their pitching isn’t quite as good as in 2017 but the offense remains dynamic as Trevor Larnach is picking up where K.J. Harrison left off.

Database Player Reports (5):

Kevin Abel
Cadyn Grenier
Luke Heimlich
Trevor Larnach
Nick Madrigal

Prospect Spotlight: Nick Madrigal, 2B

The Oregon State Beavers spend the first two weeks of their season in Surprise, Arizona every year. So for the last three years, that has been an awesome opportunity to watch Nick Madrigal play. The 5-foot-8, 165-pound middle infielder generates a ton of discussion in the scouting community and this report will unpack that.

Everyone agrees that Madrigal is an elite player and he has won almost every award imaginable. He was the 2017 Pac-12 Player of the Year and has also earned multiple All-American awards.  He was also the best player on one of the best teams in college baseball history, as the Beavers went 56-6 last season. To be clear, there is nothing that Madrigal cannot do on a baseball field.  He is a five-tool player in a very small frame.  There is some debate as to whether there is enough arm to play shortstop but it matters not. Madrigal’s floor is productive big leaguer.  

So the question becomes, how high can you draft him and feel good about it?  The obvious comp here is Dustin Pedroia and that is more than fair. Both players competed collegiately at nearly the exact same physical size. Both dominated the highest level of college baseball. Both combined off-the-charts baseball instincts with a vicious swing that produced both power and bat-to-ball efficiency.  Both deployed a super advanced hitting approach that used the entire field and handed top-of-the-line velocity and off-speed stuff.  Both were arguably the nation’s best defender.  Both played the game at Mach 2 with an infectious energy.  Both played the game with an unshakable confidence.  And most importantly, both showed an ability to raise their game when it mattered the most.  

So the good news is that Pedroia has gone on to win the 2008 MVP, amass a 52.2 WAR and 1,802 hits, and he has also finished in the Top 10 in MVP voting two other times (2011 and 2013). The really good news is that Pedroia didn’t even cost you a first round pick, as he was taken 65th overall in 2004. And herein lies both the bad news and the critical difference between Madrigal and Pedroia. Madrigal is currently ranked the No. 16 prospect for the 2018 draft by PG. There is a lot of real estate between the 16th pick and the 65th pick.  

How can this be?  While Pedroia the collegian was always the best player on the field, his scouting card lacked a plus tool. Madrigal has also been the best player on the field for his two years of college baseball. But he does have a plus tool. Pardon the scout-speak here, but his run tool is at least a 6 and many have his run tool as a 7. Nick Madrigal is a plus runner. Another argument is that the Pedroias and Altuves of the world have paved the way for players like Nick Madrigal and Nick Allen and Tyler Freeman.  That makes sense as these veterans provide proof that small players can produce big value.

At this point, there’s no denying that Madrigal is a first round talent if he stays healthy. But we would be remiss to finish this report without discussing physical stamina. Because Pedroia has struggled to stay healthy at times. And Madrigal is currently on the shelf with a wrist injury. It’s hard to refute the thought that smaller players are more likely to get hurt. Yet a volume of injuries did not prevent Pedroia from being a key player on two World Series Championship teams. So the real question is this: if you pass on Nick Madrigal, can you live with that decision?

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