Based on his name, Maddux Bruns was always destined to be a pitcher. Influenced by his parents’ love of the Braves in the 1990s, Bruns was named after Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux and his middle name is John for John Smoltz.
If the name wasn’t enough of a connection to Hall of Fame pitchers, Bruns, a left-hander, said he models his game after Dodgers’ ace and future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw.
“I just grew up watching him and I always wanted that big curveball that he has and I got it,” Bruns said. “I just like the way he pitches and he seems like a good guy, so I do want to emulate myself after him.”
Bruns and the Dodgers could only hope that he has a career anywhere near those three pitchers. That journey began on Sunday as the Dodgers selected Bruns with the No. 29 pick in the 2021 MLB Draft.
“We were really excited to select Maddux,” said Dodgers’ director of amateur scouting Billy Gasparino. “We thought he was the best high school left-handed pitcher in the Draft. It’s power pitches, power body, everything power is kind of what he’s about. We’re excited to turn him over to development and finish him off here.”
“It was the greatest thing I’ve ever experienced,” Bruns added. “It was just awesome.”
Bruns, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound southpaw from UMS-Wright Preparatory School in Alabama, went 7-0 with a 0.86 ERA as a senior, allowing just 13 hits and six earned runs over 49 innings of work. Bruns has a four-seam fastball that stands out, topping out at 98 mph last season, a significant jump from the low-90s the prior year.
The knock on Bruns entering the Draft was some issues with his command. When Bruns saw an increase in velocity, his command took a hit. But the Dodgers saw enough throughout his high school season that showed them Burns had cleaned up some of the issues and was trending in the right direction.
“We thought he made tremendous strides in that area,” Gasparino said. “We believe it’s not only good now, but it will continue to get better.”
His velocity wasn’t the only thing that stood out to the Dodgers. Bruns also possesses two sharp breaking balls -- a slider and curveball. With a three-pitch mix, the Dodgers project Bruns to be a starter. Bruns was named the 2021 Mr. Baseball in the state of Alabama.
“He was always a target,” Gasparino said. “His summer performance was something we saw, but as the spring moved on and he threw strike after strike, we felt really comfortable with where he was with that piece. So he became a target at the end and a guy we were really going to push for here, depending on how the Draft went."
Bruns admitted that he was hoping it was the Dodgers that came calling on Draft night, but now he has a decision to make. The No. 49 overall prospect in the Draft as ranked by MLB Pipeline has a commitment to Mississippi State, but he can back out of that and sign a pro deal with the Dodgers.
The Dodgers’ first-round slot value is $2,424,600. They also don’t have a second-round pick this year, which could lead them to be even more aggressive in signing Bruns.
“We’ll see what happens. I think I’m going to be a Dodger,” Bruns said. “If things don’t work out, we’ll go to school. Whatever happens, happens. But I think it’ll work out.”
It’s the second consecutive year the Dodgers selected a pitcher with their first pick in the Draft. Los Angeles selected right-hander Bobby Miller with the 29th pick in 2020. It’s also the first time the Dodgers selected a high school arm since J.T Ginn in 2018.