SSS rank among all second basemen in the system: 1
Nick Madrigal had a terrific collegiate career with Oregon State, which culminated in winning the NCAA World Series in 2018. Madrigal was the model of consistency with the Beavers, combining for .361/.422/.502 in 151 games, with 40 doubles, 11 triples, eight homers, 103 RBIs, 39 stolen bases, 58 walks (8.2%) and 37 strikeouts (5.2%) over 612 at-bats — basically the equivalent of a full major league season. Madrigal missed a lot of time due to a fractured left wrist, but resumed his defensive and offensive prowess upon his return.
His combination of offensive and defensive polish, along with his leadership skills and old-school attitude, made it a near no-brainer for the White Sox to pick him fourth in the 2018 draft.
Madrigal’s first season in the White Sox organization had all the makings of a whirlwind tour. Madrigal spent time with the AZL White Sox, Kannapolis and Winston-Salem, combining for .303/.353/.348 over 155 at-bats, with seven doubles, 16 RBIs, seven walks, five strikeouts, and eight stolen bases.
A couple things stand out — his ISO was only .045, which is cause for some concern. However, I’ll attribute it to him simply getting acclimated with professional pitching and the grind of a long season; he also attained injuries almost immediately upon turning pro, being hit by pitches while playing for the AZL Sox and setting him back a bit. The second thing, of course, is Madrigal’s plate discipline: He didn’t walk much (4.1%), but struck out even less (a microscopic 2.9%). It’s hoped that with additional experience, Madrigal can work more counts and earn a few more walks in the process. His success rate in the stolen base department wasn’t ideal (57.1%), but we can cut him some slack because he was 15-of-16 with Oregon State as a junior.
Madrigal has all the makings of an elite No. 2 hitter in the majors: He puts the bat on the ball, has good speed, and should be able to hit better than .300 consistently. Is he a perfect prospect? Probably not. However, Madrigal does enough things well and has the excellent instincts to be a solid major leaguer for the next 15 years, provided he stays healthy. He’s a smart player and will likely find ways to coax more walks while keeping his strikeouts down; he’s also smart enough to find a ways to turn on pitches as well. He has 12-20 homer potential, with 25-30 stolen bases while regularly being among the leaders in batting average.
Madrigal was said to be more a “middle infielder” (incorporating shortstop) than second baseman when drafted, and there was even talk that Madrigal would play shortstop primarily with the White Sox. But he’s played in just one game (six innings) of his first 77 career minor league contests at short, so some combination of Madrigal’s arm strength and White Sox organization depth at shortstop has pinned the first-rounder to second base.
The good news is that Madrigal is regarded by many to be a future Gold Glove contender; he’s committed just four errors in his professional career so far (.989 fielding percentage).
A blinding rise through the system (2019 in Birmingham and Charlotte, South Side by 2020) seems a bit unrealistic at the moment, as Madrigal started slow at Winston-Salem in 2019. But he’s really picked up the pace to end the first half of the season, and now stands at .279/.351/.391. Our 21st Century Nellie Fox also has had just 11 strikeouts in his first 376 professional plate appearances.
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