Wait well worth it for Madrid
June 16, 2012 at 1:16 a.m.
The cliche of a cooked pot never boiling can easily fit into the Major League Baseball draft. Memorial graduate Roman Madrid can tell you all about it.
During the first few rounds of the 2012 MLB Draft, the then University of Central Florida junior watched the draft in anticipation, waiting for his name to be called by a major league team.
Then he decided to walk away.
"I stopped watching and then 10 minutes later, it happened," Madrid said. "I should have stopped earlier. I would have gotten drafted earlier."
The San Diego Padres selected Madrid out of the University of Central Florida in the seventh round of the draft with the 225th pick overall last week.
He signed with the team on Friday, and could be due a substantial payday: Baseball America projects his signing bonus to be $148,300 for the spot in which Madrid was drafted.
He's been down this road before, too. Just not this high in the draft.
After graduating from Memorial in 2009, Madrid was selected in the 44th round of the draft by the Cleveland Indians as a catcher.
But, his goal was to make it as the other position in the battery.
CLEMONS CHANGED EVERYTHING
His collegiate career began at the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi - where he pitched and caught his freshman year - before transferring to McLennan Community College for his sophomore season.
But it was over the summer in Victoria that Madrid met the coach who would change the course of his baseball career - Chris Clemons.
The current Generals head coach and McLennan assistant worked with Madrid during his one season at McLennan and first year playing for the Generals in the Texas Collegiate League to become a more effective and efficient pitcher.
"I owe it to him for getting me to UCF," Madrid said. "If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have ended at MCC, and I wouldn't have ended up at UCF. I definitely owe him one of the biggest thanks that I can give to anyone."
Clemons has a pretty good idea of what his pupil is experiencing.
After all, he was a high draft pick himself, picked by Chicago White Sox in the compensation round of the 1997 draft out of Texas A&M, and pitched in the majors for five years before his career was cut short by shoulder surgery.
THE SUMMER OF '10
Clemons said he saw Madrid's potential to be great when he first saw him pitch for the Generals in 2010. Madrid had unbelievable hand speed, he noted.
There were a few things that needed to be refined, and that started during the summer. The Generals had, also, originally signed the Memorial graduate to play catcher for them that summer.
Most of all, Clemons helped him start to reach his full potential.
"Roman grew up in those years and I was fortunate to be working with him when he finally got that work ethic and finally decided what he wanted to do," Clemons said.
In his first season with the Generals, Madrid was part of a pitching staff that helped the team win its first TCL championship.
HARD WORK PAYS OFF
The work he put into his becoming a pitcher showed last year as things came together at the Orlando campus last season. As a junior, Madrid appeared in 32 games for the Knights and posted a 5-2 record with a 1.00 ERA, 46 strikeouts and three saves.
He held opposition batters to a .218 batting average and helped the Knights make an NCAA tournament appearance.
"Everything just worked out for me and I'm just really, really thankful and blessed," Madrid said.
Winning a championship with the Generals while playing in front of the home crowd wasn't the only perk for Madrid in 2010.
He saw even greater moments ahead for him.
"It allowed me to dream even bigger," he said. "Being on that team showed me how to win and how to handle losing and not let it happen."
Last year, he pitched 11 1/3 innings for the Generals and posted a 7-0 record with 14 strikeouts and a 7.94 ERA.
DESTINATION: SAN ANTONIO?
Madrid said he wanted to make it to the Double-A level next season for the Padres, a lofty but not altogether unattainable goal.
And there's a good reason for that: The Padres Double A affiliate is in San Antonio, a short jaunt down the freeway from his hometown.
"My parent, family, friends would be able to come watch me once I move up," Madrid said. "It just gives me more of a drive to move up as fast as I can so I can get to San Antonio and then someday I can get to the league."
But now, it's on to the start of his pro baseball career.
Madrid will meet with a team doctor on Wednesday in Peoria, Ariz., a suburb of Phoenix where the Padres and the Seattle Mariners share a spring training complex.
Then, its to the next step for him: an assignment to the Eugene Emeralds, a short-season Class A team in the Northwest League.