Trying to figure out the Miami Marlins has been a formidable task the past few seasons. 2016 brings a year of expectations, despite another disappointing prior season. A consistency with the team the past several years, though, has been a large amount of young talent in the whole system.
Of course you know of Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich, and this year you’ll meet Justin Bour and J.T. Realmuto, but that’s just at the top. The Marlins’ Minor League is noted for its past two top draft picks, Tyler Kolek and Josh Naylor, but like the Stanton-Fernandez dynamic, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Michael Mader was Miami’s 3rd round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft out of Chipola JUCO in nearby Marianna, Florida. Notable Chipola alumni are Baltimore Orioles’ Manager Buck Showalter and Toronto Blue Jays’ All-Stars Jose Bautista and Russell Martin.
Mader is a bulky left-handed pitcher, standing at 6 foot 2, 195 pounds. Every baseball mind knows left-handed pitching is hard to find and the Marlins certainly have expectations for someone selected as high as round three. If the name sounds at all familiar, that may be because our own Patrick Cleary wrote an exceptional piece on Michael’s on and off the field activities.
Further, the 22-year old was on 27 Outs Baseball Radio recently with our Frank Conti to discuss the upcoming season, among other topics.
Starting his career in Low-A after being drafted rather than in short-season ball, Mader showed major promise in what the scouts and fans were hoping to see. In 45 innings pitched across 12 starts, the then just 20-year old put up an impressive 2.00 ERA and a sparkling 1.04 WHIP.
While he wasn’t blowing away batters (28 strikeouts), he was keeping runners off base and from an immediate draft pick sent right into full season action every arrow was pointing upward.
In 2015, he was promoted to A ball where he would spend the entire season with mixed results. Let’s remember that he was still 21 and just a sophomore in professional baseball. But with all prospects, a good start brings high expectations, sometimes too high.
Mader pitched a very full season, making 27 starts and throwing 140.2 innings. He hadn’t yet shown the ability to consistently miss bats (5.5 K/9) and his numbers ballooned to an ERA of 4.73 and a 1.41 WHIP. It was a step backward, but one that most great players have taken at some point in their career, especially given Michael Mader’s age and level.
Sharing a rotation with blue chip prospect and fellow 2014 draftee Tyler Kolek (2nd overall pick) will likely leave Mader out of the spotlight, but down the line this is a projected starting pitcher at the big league level.