A lot of focus has been given to the big named prospects for the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, today we examine a lesser-known name in the Pirates minor league organization who is positioning himself to move up the prospect rankings.
The Pirates selected Bligh Madris in the 9th round of the 2017 draft out of Mesa State University. Madris would sport a .422 batting average with 17 home runs in his final season with the Division II Mavericks, leading to him being drafted by the Pirates.
The Las Vegas, Nevada native would be named the Tino Martinez Award winner, which is given to the most outstanding Division II baseball player in the nation. After signing with the Pirates, Madris would be immediately sent to play for the West Virginia Black Bears, where he would struggle out of the gate.
Much of his struggles could be attributed to the fact that he was coming from Division II baseball to the minor leagues and the level of competition was significantly higher than what he had seen with Mesa State.
Despite his early struggles, Madris would exhibit his trademark determination, becoming a student of the game and working diligently with the coaching staff to improve his skillset. The 6’ and 210-pound Madris takes great pride in his working relationship with his coaches and his willingness to learn from them.
Known for his excellent plate discipline and above-average power, Madris has yet to see some of his strengths translate to the professional game. However, after seeing how he has responded to adversity and struggles so far, it is only a matter of time before he puts it all together.
The 23-year old Madris represents a high character player who has the respect and admiration of all those who share the clubhouse with him. Last year playing with Pittsburgh’s Double-A affiliate the Altoona Curve, Madris had a solid season despite battling inconsistency at the plate.
In 457 at-bats, he had a .260 batting average, eight home runs, three stolen bases, 50 runs scored and 55 runs batted in. While his numbers at the plate were solid, where the young outfield prospect made a name for himself was on defense.
Last season Madris made only three errors all season in right field for the Curve. That follows two consecutive seasons of him making only two errors in stops at West Virginia in 2017 and Bradenton in 2018.
The young left-handed batter exhibits solid contact skills and above-average pitch discipline. As a result, he had a respectable 19.3% strikeout rate to go with an excellent 8.4% walk rate batting in the middle of the order last season with Altoona.
Currently, Madris represents the only right fielder on the Altoona roster. If he has success out of the gate, he could be quickly promoted to Triple-A, as Pablo Reyes was scheduled to be the starting right fielder for the Indianapolis Indians, but was just handed an 80-game suspension for violating the performance-enhancing drug rules.
While Will Craig may very well take over in right field, as the team tries to find a position other than first base for him, the Pirates would like to promote Craig’s bat sooner rather than later, which could open a spot in Indianapolis for Madris.
If Madris can improve upon his streaky hitting and put together a consistent year, he can be expected to shoot up the top-50 prospect rankings for the Pirates. If he can tap into the power that he exhibited at Mesa State and continue with his stellar defensive performance, he could end up being the right fielder of the future for Pittsburgh.