Whither Warner Madrigal?

Warner Madrigal

The Newberg Report blog is reporting that the Texas Rangers have signed Warner Madrigal as a minor-league free agent. Jamey cites a press release on the Texas Rangers site which would seem to validate his report.

This is rather odd, since the Angels issued a press release on November 6 reporting that Madrigal had been added to the 40-man roster. And that came shortly after Baseball America reported on November 2 that Madrigal had been let go by the Angels as a six-year minor league free agent.

As of this writing, if you go to the Angels’ official site at MLB.com and click on the 40-man roster, Madrigal is listed with the Angels. But if you click on his name, it shows him as a Texas Ranger.

UPDATE 12:15 PM PST — At the same link as above, Jamey Newberg now suggests the Angels lost Warner Madrigal because they failed to do their paperwork properly. Jamey believes the Angels’ front office sent paperwork to MLB adding Madrigal to the 40-man roster on November 6, not realizing that Madrigal had already taken his six-year minor league free agency on October 28.

Jamey wrote, "I wouldn’t be very happy about this if I were an Angels fan."

Well, I’m not happy, if his theory is true.

It would reflect poorly on the recently promoted Tony Reagins and Abe Flores if this did indeed fall through the cracks.

I just wrote yesterday Madrigal’s review for the forthcoming FutureAngels.com Top 10 Prospects list. Madrigal was going to rank #9.

Since Warner has gone bye-bye, here’s what I wrote. (If this was a TV show, it would be a deleted scene.)

9. Warner Madrigal RHP
Bats: Right Throws: Right 6’0" 200 lbs. DOB: 3/21/1984
Cedar Rapids (Low-A): 5-4 2.07 ERA, 75:23 K:BB,
AVG/OBP/SLG: .199/.274/.284, 1.10 WHIP (61.0 IP)

Baseball America in their 2004 Prospect Handbook ranked outfielder Warner Madrigal as the Angels’ #16 prospect. “He physically resembles Albert Belle,” wrote analyst Josh Boyd, “and his swing has similar length and power.” Madrigal hit .369 for Rookie-A Provo in 2003 with a .581 SLG, but any projections of future greatness were tempered by his overaggressiveness at the plate and a series of injuries that eventually put an end to his hitting career. He had surgery to remove the hook of his hamate bone below his left wrist after an injury in the first game of the 2004 season, and didn’t return to Cedar Rapids until August.

Madrigal always had a power arm, so after he broke his right hand in May 2006 the Angels returned him to minor league camp and converted him into a relief pitcher. So far, that seems to have been the right move. He entered 2007 with a plus fastball in the upper 90s, a decent slider and changeup. MiLB.com analyst Jonathan Mayo wrote in October 2006 that Madrigal was also working on a splitter.

Kernels manager Ever Magallanes told me in a May 2007 interview that Warner sometimes got overexcited in certain situations, but his second-half numbers would seem to suggest he’s made strides in pitching under pressure. Pre All-Star Game, Madrigal had a 3.64 ERA and .256 AVG. Post All-Star Game, those numbers dropped to 0.57 and .129. His SO:BB ratio improved from 31:17 (29.2 IP) to 44:6 (31.1 IP). And here’s an even scarier split — his home ERA was 2.93, while on the road it was 1.19.

The next step will be High-A Rancho Cucamonga, in the hitter-friendly California League. If he’s successful there, the temptation will be to move him quickly, but let’s remember that he’s only been pitching since mid-2006. He needs innings, and with those innings will come the opportunity to experiment and gain more confidence. Madrigal didn’t go to the fall instructional league but did pitch for the second straight winter with Escogido in the Dominican Winter League. At higher levels, he’ll start to see batters who’ve been in the big leagues and will be far more patient. How he adjusts will determine how soon, if ever, he arrives in Anaheim.

UPDATE 6:00 AM PST November 19, 2007Today’s Dallas Morning News reports that the Angels missed a filing deadline to protect Warner Madrigal because the deadline changed:

The Rangers signed RHP Warner Madrigal, 23, and added him to the 40-man roster Sunday.

The Angels signed the Dominican as an outfielder in 2001. He started pitching late in 2006.

A story on the Angels’ Web site this month reported Madrigal was placed on their 40-man roster. But he was declared a free agent in late October because the deadline regarding signing players changed this off-season.

Texas officials checked into Madrigal’s status and got him signed. Daniels said Madrigal was someone the Rangers would have considered picking in the Rule 5 draft. But by signing him now, Madrigal still has options the Rangers can use to get him more experience in the minors.

"He throws his fastball in the mid 90s, has a hard slider and pounds the strike zone," Daniels said. "Our scouts really like him."

This article is copyright © 2007 Stephen C. Smith DBA FutureAngels.com. It may not be reprinted elsewhere without the prior expressed written permission of the author. To obtain permission, e-mail Stephen at home@futureangels.com.

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