Bob McCrory spent last off-season hearing his name in rumors that he might be selected in the Rule 5…
RC Prospect Report: Marc Maddox
Name: Marc Maddox
RC 2008 Rank: 38
Background: After a distinguished high school career in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Marc Maddox signed on to play baseball with the Golden Eagles at the University of Southern Mississippi. Four years later, Maddox left Southern Miss holding several all-time school records, including games played (244), runs (228), hits (296), home runs (53), and total bases (514). His senior season, Maddox was a preseason All-American, and he responded with another solid year, hitting .313/.412/.577 with a team-best 18 home runs and 70 RBIs. The Royals took notice of Maddox's strong collegiate resume, and the club selected him in the ninth round of the 2006 draft.
Maddox signed for $50,000 and was assigned to the Idaho Falls Chukars in the rookie Pioneer League. He had a sensational debut there, hitting .336/.428/.504 with three home runs and 22 doubles in 232 at bats. For his efforts, the Royals named Maddox as the 2006 Idaho Falls Chukars Player of the Year, and he was invited to Kauffman Stadium to take part in the minor league awards ceremony that September. Maddox got a kick out of the experience.
"That was awesome, just being down there on the big league field," said Maddox. "It lets you know what you're shooting for. They took care of us, did a nice thing, and I was really honored."
Maddox's 2006 offensive debut was particularly impressive in light of the fact that it occurred while he was learning a new position. Maddox played third base and first base almost exclusively in college, but the Royals moved him to second base in Idaho Falls, where he hadn't played since high school.
"That's been a big adjustment, getting the feel," said Maddox in 2006. "Second base in pro ball is a lot different than it was in high school. It's taking some time, and it's gonna take some time, but I'm learning."
After the 2006 season, Maddox went home to Mississippi and started preparing for 2007, with the help of some friends who also play pro ball.
"I just worked out," said Maddox. "I had a couple of buddies who play professional ball, and they know what it takes. So we just worked out a lot. We hit, threw, lifted weights, and just tried to prepare mentally for the season."
2007 Season: Maddox arrived at spring training in 2007 with a new assignment. The Royals moved him back to third base, and he spent most of the spring taking his reps at the hot corner. When the full season assignments were handed out, Maddox was sent to the Burlington Bees, where he became the club's starting third baseman.
Maddox opened the season on fire at the plate, and after just 21 games, the Royals promoted him to Wilmington. He finished his Midwest League stint with a line of .301/.376/.425 with two home runs in 73 at bats. He clearly made a fan of Burlington hitting coach Ryan Long, who sang Maddox's praises when we caught up him in May.
"Maddox was a real solid hitter for this league," said Long. "He's a kid I use as an example a lot of times for players because when he takes his batting practice he does it the right way. He stays in the middle of the field, and he never tries to do too much as far as getting out of what his game is. It was a pleasure having him, and I wish we could have had him longer, but that's the nature of the business."
Maddox, who played 16 of his 21 games in Burlington at third base, seemed to enjoy his time with the Bees, but he was looking forward to the challenge of advanced-A ball.
"It was good," said Maddox. "The weather was a little bit colder than I was used to. It was fine, and it was fun. They have a good team, and a good organization running things up there. But I'm glad to be [in Wilmington]."
Once in Wilmington, Maddox moved back across the diamond to second base, where he saw the vast majority of his playing time for the Blue Rocks, only occasionally spelling Mario Lisson at third. At the plate, the 23-year-old wasn't able to maintain the same pace he had in Burlington, and he finished the season hitting .259/.317/.331 with 17 doubles and six triples in 405 at bats. When asked about the difference in the quality of pitching between low-A and high-A, Maddox pointed to the overall quality of pitchers in the Carolina League.
"There are a lot of guys who have good stuff," said Maddox. "There might be a little bit more depth, and they make fewer mistakes. But for the most part, everybody has pretty good stuff. You just have to be more consistent as you keep moving up."
After the regular season ended, the Royals invited Maddox to play in the Arizona Fall League for the Surprise Rafters. Even though he turned 24-years-old in September, the level of competition in the AFL was generally better than anything Maddox had yet seen, since the vast majority of players in the league come from the Double-A and Triple-A ranks. Nevertheless, Maddox was far from overwhelmed, and he turned in an outstanding AFL campaign. In fact, his batting average with just five games remaining on the schedule stood at .413, which would have been good enough for the league batting title, had he been able to maintain it. Unfortunately, Maddox over those last five games went 0-for-18, ending the season with a still impressive line of .321/.398/.481 with two home runs.
Tools and Skills: Although he hit 53 home runs in college, Maddox has never fancied himself as a power hitter. When we first interviewed him in 2006, he didn't anticipate that he'd develop much power.
"I doubt I'll be a very big power hitter," said Maddox. "Probably just some line drives, and I like to work on staying on top and using the gaps."
Indeed, Maddox doesn't seem to have the type of raw power that his collegiate numbers might suggest, and his swing produces more line drives than deep flies. After hitting two home runs in April with the Bees, he failed to homer in 405 at bats with the Blue Rocks. Maddox looks to hit the ball where it's pitched, staying up the middle and taking outside pitches to the opposite field. In fact, his greatest strength as a hitter is his ability to take the ball the other way, which is something he struggled with a bit during his stint in Wilmington.
"I'm just trying to get back into barreling it up and driving the ball the other way," said Maddox during a slump in June. "When I'm going good, right-center is my strength. I've got to get back going there, and just slow things down and not try to jump at it."
Maddox's offensive upside, if everything works out, appears to be similar to that of Joe Randa's, with perhaps a bit less power. He's not a base-clogger by any means, but his speed grades out to average, or just below.
Defensively, Maddox has been a work in progress at second base since being drafted. He's not as naturally athletic as some of his middle infield teammates, but he's still capable of becoming an adequate defender there. He's worked hard to make progress, particularly on double play turns.
"It's coming along good," said Maddox. "I've talked with a bunch of different infield guys, and we've been all working trying to figure out what's best. It's come a long way. I've still got some more work to do, but I'm a lot more comfortable with it."
Indeed, Maddox told us that second base has become his most comfortable position on the field. He's got more than enough arm to play there, and given his limited power potential, if he has a future in the Major Leagues, it will likely have to come at that position.
2008 Outlook: With nearly a full season of High-A ball under his belt, Maddox could open the 2008 season with the NW Arkansas Naturals, thanks in part to his strong showing in the AFL. What position he plays ultimately depends on a few factors. There has been some talk in the organization about moving Mario Lisson to another position, perhaps the outfield, which could open up a spot for Maddox to return to third base this year for the Naturals. The fates of Irving Falu, Chris McConnell, Jeff Bianchi, and Kurt Mertins also figure to have some bearing on where Maddox winds up, with the latter two possibly moving up to High-A this season. Because Maddox has proven to be versatile, he might have to wait until the High-A and Double-A rosters get sorted out a bit in spring training before learning which position he'll play. Either way, 2008 figures to be an important year for Maddox, and hopefully he can carry his solid AFL campaign into this season, wherever he winds up.
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