ST. PETERSBURG – Perseverance was the random word I picked to describe the 2022 season from Bligh Madris.
He had good numbers last year in Triple-A, hitting for a .786 OPS. He followed that up with strong numbers this year in big league camp, but didn’t make the majors. That didn’t seem to bother him, as he hit for a .904 OPS in his return to Triple-A, ultimately resulting in a shot in the majors.
Perseverance. That’s how I see it. You could make an argument that Madris should have been up earlier. That didn’t stop him from persevering and maintaining his production.
Upon mentioning the word, Madris simply turned over his arm to reveal the word “Perseverance” tattooed on his arm.
“Right there, baby,” Madris said, displaying the tattoo.
“It’s a core value of mine,” Madris continued. “You’ve got to have family who support you, you’ve got to have friends who support you, you’ve got to be mentally and physically strong, and you’ve got to be willing to persevere though the bad times and just get to the good times. Because nothing good comes without hard times.”
There haven’t been many hard times for Madris on the surface. He has a .314/.314/.514 line in his first 35 plate appearances of his MLB debut, including his first home run, hit at PNC Park.
“It’s been an unbelievable experience so far,” said Madris. “I love being up here with this staff, with all of the guys. It’s been fun traveling. Opening up at PNC, it’s been fun playing there, It’s a dream come true. I’m excited to be here. Excited to play hard.”
A big thing that stands out for Madris over the last two years has been his power increase. He had a .118 ISO in Double-A in 2019. That jumped to a .162 ISO in Triple-A in 2021, and a .215 ISO this year at the same level, prior to his promotion to the majors.
Madris chalks the power increase up to a mix of approach and minor swing adjustments.
“Nothing too crazy, just getting into a better position earlier,” said Madris. “Getting a better chance to see stuff up. Just really honing in on hunting pitches up.”
The 2017 9th rounder has shown an advanced approach so far. In his outing against Tampa Bay Rays starter Corey Kluber, Madris struck out his first time up. He followed by making an adjustment to pick up multiple hits against the veteran starter.
“It’s all about reacting, and processing what they’re trying to do,” said Madris. “It’s even harder when the ball is coming in at 96, with cut, run. It’s extremely hard. It’s all about making those in-game adjustments, and having the mentality of not being too stubborn, but being stubborn in your approach.”
Madris has the ability to stick in the majors, at least as a solid fourth outfielder, if not more. The improvements he’s seen with his control of the mental game — and the power that has come partially as a result of that — indicates that he could remain in the majors long-term.
“This game is big on the mental side,” said Madris. “Mentally, it’s just the research you do, and how you think they’re going to attack you. Playing that cat and mouse game. That’s just what this game is sometimes.”
THIS WEEK ON PIRATES
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JT Brubaker Discusses the Short Memory Needed in the Majors
Pirates Roundtable: When Did Realize You Would Reach the Majors?
Zach Thompson Made an Important Change to His Mindset in 2021
Jack Suwinski Put in Work to Gain an Edge
Bligh Madris Discusses Core Value of Perseverance and His Power Increase
Diego Castillo is Hitting a Lot of Homers and Very Little Else
Cam Vieaux Finding Success With His Slider in the Bullpen
Yerry De Los Santos Impressive So Far in His MLB Debut
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.
I agree the game is played in your head.
The biggest difference between guys at any level is believing in your abilities and outworking anybody else. Madris is a good story and the .280 BA and .440 Slugging are VG, but the 16 K’s to 1 Walk in 50 AB is reason to think he will be sent back down as soon as Gamel is ready – possibly tomorrow. Gamel had two hits yesterday and put the ball in play all 5 AB.