You don’t even have to glance down to the Fairview bullpen to know when it’s Ryan Madden’s turn to take the ball for the Knights.
The scouts sitting in the stands with their backpacks and note pads pretty much give it away. As Fairview took on Boulder about a week and a half ago on a pretty light Monday, a half-dozen radar guns were simultaneously popping up to the ready position every time he set to deliver.
In his senior season for the Knights, already promised to the University of Oklahoma in the fall, Madden can’t help but get a little starry eyed when thinking about what might happen a week into June.
After all, those scouts are there for a reason, and Madden has not done anything to deter the possibilities of being drafted.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about it,” Madden said this week of his draft prospects. “It’s hard not to, really, just because it’s been a lifelong dream. It’s pretty special coming to terms with the fact that might be happening pretty soon.”
With a fastball that stays in the 90-mph range as he’s bearing down on the game’s final hitters in the seventh inning and a change-up/curve arsenal that keeps him sneaky, Madden has quickly become one of the state’s premier hurlers for Rick Harig’s 13-3 squad.
He’s allowed six runs all year — yes, six total runs in 43 innings — and is also racking up more than a strikeout an inning. He has a perfect game to his credit against Poudre, dazzled against Regis in a complete-game shutout as well, and is 6-1 overall.
That is what the pro scouts have come to witness, but Madden has also given them something else to consider — he has increased his power numbers at the plate, too. With five home runs, he is among Colorado’s leaders in that category.
Absolutely none of it is surprising to Harig.
“Last year he hit almost .500 and had nine wins, so I don’t think it’s really a surprise to anybody,” Harig said. “I just think he’s been on this straight-line projection to where every year he gets better. If you’ve watched him since he was a ninth-grader, you’ve seen that he’s each year been better. Well, he got better again and some guys don’t do that.
“I think he’s very projectible. That’s why you see so many pro scouts at our games watching him play. I think he’s definitely somebody to reckon with. He’s got a lot of tools.”
Madden has invested a lot of time in developing his trade. He played summer ball with the Old School Dirtbags, then spent the fall with the Rockies Scout Team. It was in the gym, though, that Madden really pushed himself.
“I had a great experience with the Rockies Scout Team, and when winter came around I pushed myself to (going to the gym) six times a week,” Madden said, also crediting a longstanding relationship with personal coach Chad Jacobsen as a source of success. “I put on about 15 pounds, and that’s really helping me out right now. Last year, I hit a lot of them out in (batting practice) but it never translated. Bulking up, spending a lot of time in the cage, I think that’s been the difference.”
While personal achievements are definitely in the works, Madden has a team-first mentality. After falling in the first two games of the Class 5A Championship Series last year, the Knights as a unit are eager to shake that off and make a serious run. They are currently ranked third in the AP media poll.
Madden more than anyone wants to go out on top. To him, June 8 (the first day of the MLB draft) is still far off in the distance, and if the Knights are still playing on May 23, that would suit him just fine.
“I think it’s really great how the team’s coming together, and I’m just really happy with how we’ve competed,” he said. “I think we’ll be going to the playoffs with a lot of momentum. Leaving high school with a ring would be pretty special, and that’s definitely a goal of mine.”
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