The next level
Colorado Mesa's Madris has worked out with MLB teams in advance of draft
Growing up, Bligh Madris had a dream to play college baseball.
Most likely by the end of the day Tuesday, he’ll have to make a decision on whether to continue that dream or start a new one as a professional baseball player.
The Colorado Mesa outfielder/first baseman has worked out for three Major League Baseball teams the past week in advance of the amateur draft, which begins Monday night with the first two rounds.
Tuesday is when Madris’ stress level will start to rise — he and his advisor have been given a couple of projections of Madris being selected anywhere from the sixth to 10th round.
“It’s going to be a pretty exciting week,” Madris said Saturday from his home in Las Vegas. “I’m supposed to be around my phone, and have (the ringer) on loud all day.”
He joked that he expects to be so nervous that he might “squeeze my phone so hard I break it. I might need to get a backup.”
Because he missed the 2016 season with a broken wrist, Madris, who just completed his sophomore year, is draft eligible because he’s 21 years old and he just completed his third year of school. And since he’ll only be a junior, he has leverage when it comes to negotiations.
If he isn’t taken in the first 10 rounds, it’s possible he’ll return to Colorado Mesa next fall and re-enter the draft next June.
“I know the slot money. The first 10 rounds, the slot money is pretty nice,” Madris said. “I’d be grateful for that. Anything after that I probably won’t take. I don’t know what I’ll take, but it’ll come down to it having to be a pretty penny for me to sign. That’s my future at CMU and that means a lot to me.
“I’d love to come back and play another year with the guys I love more than anything, the guys I call my brothers. It’s gotta be a pretty good number for me … not to throw it away, but to go play. I know I’m guaranteed to play at Mesa with a great team and a great coaching chance, and we’ve got another great chance to go to the World Series.
“Our draft class next year would be ridiculous, me, JR (McDermott), Kyle Leahy, Keenan Eaton was drafted out of high school and who knows what (junior college) guys come in and get picked up.”
Madris isn’t the only CMU player who will likely get a serious look during this week’s draft — senior-to-be shortstop Zach McLeod could be a late-round pick, and pitcher Tyler Day, who just wrapped up his senior year, has the low- to mid-90s velocity and live arm that scouts covet.
“Day’s gonna get picked up, either as a free agent, but he’s good enough to go out of the draft,” Madris said. “Zach is definitely a contender, or even next year as a senior signing. He’s got the tools, especially if he has another year like this year.”
Madris worked out for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels early last week, then flew to Milwaukee to audition for the Brewers. He got a late invitation from the Colorado Rockies, but couldn’t find a last-minute flight.
Driving down Vin Scully Avenue to play in Dodger Stadium, with Andre Ethier sitting in the dugout, was awe-inspiring, Madris said. Spotting Mike Trout in the stands as he played center field at Angel Stadium was “a little intimidating,” and he was amazed at how big Miller Park is.
He and other prospects went through the big-league club’s stretching and pregame workout, then took infield-outfield practice. The Angels and Brewers then put them through simulated games.
“All my throws from the outfield were strong,” he said. “I think I had one of the best arms of all three workouts.
“I needed to get out in front of the front office guys so they could see my potential. From what we talked about with the scouting directors, they see the tools and they needed to see me utilize them. They were all saying my tools definitely play at the next level.”
That was what Madris wanted to hear, and the next thing he wants to hear is his name called. He’d love an opportunity to be drafted by Colorado and be assigned to play this summer in Grand Junction. The three teams he worked out for all have Rookie clubs in the Pioneer League, so that could mean at least visiting Suplizio Field again. The Rookie clubs for the Angels and Dodgers are in Utah, close to his family in Vegas.
With the leverage of returning to school for another year, Madris said he’ll talk with his family and his advisor and make his decision.
“My dream really was to play college baseball. Anything beyond that was unbelievable,” Madris said. “I worked my butt off to play college baseball and now this is starting to shape up to what it is, it’s exciting. I’m so grateful to everyone who helped me get better and supported me.”
Having CMU coach Chris Hanks supporting him either way helps, Madris said, and depending on when he gets that call, “it’s win-win,” he said of his impending decision. “Either way, I’ve got the full support of the whole coaching staff at CMU and my family, everyone around me. I can’t make a wrong one.”