MLB Draft Preview: OF Madison Nickens

Madison Nickens – OF

Ht: 6’2″        Wt: 210       Year: Sr.        Bats/Throws: Left/Left

Hometown (HS): Gonzales, La. (LSU-Eunice)

2017 Stats: 

G: 57     PA: 197    Slash Line: .222/.318/.380     HR: 5       RBI: 32     K-rate: 26.6 %      BB-rate: 11.8 %

Madison Nickens doubles against Michigan State. (Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network)

Background: Madison Nickens transferred to Maryland before his junior season in 2016, after playing his first two seasons of college ball at LSU-Eunice. As a freshman for the Bengals in 2014, he hit .318 in 35 contests and showed impressive speed on the basepaths, going 15-for-16 in stolen base attempts. The Louisiana native found his power stroke in his sophomore season, hitting six homers and nine doubles while batting .289 and stealing 38 bases for a Bengals team that won the Division II National Championship. After two season, Nickens left LSU-Eunice and came to Maryland with a career .301/.411/.463 slash line.

A speedy outfielder with good on-base skills, Nickens joined the Terps and spent most of the season atop the Maryland order. He started the season hot, launching a two-run homer, his first at the Division I level, in Maryland’s second game of the season against Alabama, and reaching base safely in his first 13 contests. He saw time at all three outfield positions, as well as at DH, and tied with Marty Costes for the team lead with four outfield assists. He finished the season with a .260 average and a team-best eight steals and 40 runs scored, while ranking second with eight homers and a .423 slugging percentage.

With Marty Costes’ transition to right field, Nickens opened the 2017 season as the Terps’ starting left fielder. After a strong 2016, he struggled to find consistency at the plate, hitting in the lower part of the order for much of the season. He walked 24 times, but increased his swing-and-miss tendencies, whiffing 54 times in 57 games, and hitting just .222. He showed power and speed, hitting five homers and a team-high three triples, while ranking third on the team with 14 stolen bases. Perhaps his best contribution, across his inconsistency at the plate, was his stellar defense, as he turned in numerous highlight reel plays, especially down the stretch and in the Big Ten Tournament.

Outlook: In 2016, Nickens showed his potential in many different aspects of the game: power, speed, defense, among others. Should he have improved on his junior season and turned in the same power with a higher average this year, Nickens would be an intriguing prospect with a good shot to hear his name called in the draft. However, one of his biggest assets – his left-handed uppercut swing that produces extra base hits – also was one of his biggest drawbacks this season, as it led to a high strikeout rate and a much lower average.

When he was hot, Nickens was one of the most dynamic players on the field, and some teams in the later rounds could like his combination of speed and power and take a chance on the “Cajun Sensation.” However, his disappointing senior season limits him from being a sure-fire draft prospects, and keeps him on the fringe of those that would be taken late if they’re taken at all.