White Sox prospect Nick Madrigal’s incredible bat control could fast-track him to the majors: ‘I was raised to put the ball in play’

Though he won’t be mentioned in the same breath as Manny Machado anytime soon, Nick Madrigal could be the hit of White Sox camp if he lives up to the hype.

The 5-foot-7 infielder and No. 4 pick in last year’s draft was invited to major-league camp after a half-season in the minors and will likely get his first opportunity to play with the big boys Feb. 23, when the Sox open Cactus League play with a pair of split-squad games.

Madrigal doesn’t seem at all fazed by the challenge ahead. He could be on a fast track to the South Side if he continues to progress as he did in his first taste of professional baseball, and a strong showing in spring training might help.

“I don’t think I need to prove anything,” Madrigal said. “They drafted me for a reason. I’m not going to change my style of play at all. I’m going to play as hard as I can. I’m not too worried about anything else.”

The Sox have been linked with Machado since the general managers meetings in November. Madrigal could get more opportunities in Arizona if Machado isn’t in Sox camp.

The Internet sports book BetOnline.ag has the Sox at 5-1 odds to land Machado, behind the Yankees (1-2) and Padres (4-1). That doesn’t mean Machado won’t sign with the Sox, but it suggests the odds are longer than some have speculated.

Manny or no Manny, the Sox are excited to see if Madrigal’s natural ability can make up for his lack of experience. When the Sox drafted Madrigal last summer out of Oregon State, scouting director Nick Hostetler said he would start out at shortstop but also get some time at second and third base.

The Sox played Madrigal exclusively at second in 36 games at Class A Kannapolis and high-A Winston-Salem, and that’s where he figures to get most of his playing time in 2019.

Madrigal was No. 43 on Baseball America’s top prospects list heading into the season after hitting .317 at his two Class A stops. What could persuade the Sox to fast-track him is his amazing bat control – only five strikeouts in 156 plate appearances. Of the 392 major-leaguers with 150 or more plate appearances in 2018, former Sox catcher Kevan Smith had the fewest strikeouts with 18 in 187 plate appearances.

If Madrigal can translate that to the majors, he would be an anomaly in a game in which strikeouts are becoming more and more commonplace.

“I feel like I got a lot of attention for that last year,” he said. “I’ve never really thought too much of it. That’s part of my game and something I’ve always had. I’ve always hit toward the top of the order and always had that in mind. If you hit at the top of the order, you’re not supposed to strike out. You’re supposed to put the ball in play.

“I know moving forward I’m going to strike out. It’s something I’m not worried about when I get up to the plate. …read more

Source:: Daily times


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