Nick Madrigal was the 4th overall pick by our #WhiteSox in the 2018 MLB Rule 4 Amateur draft
From the moment he was selected, I saw members of #WhiteSox twitter anointing him the 2nd baseman of the future!!! Many folks were already trying to figure out odd lineup configurations moving around many of the teams other young players to accommodate Nick in the current lineup. The more bullish of the crowd saw Nick as a Shortstop, even though he did not play Shortstop in college. The White Sox claiming to “try him out” at shortstop (he only played 1 minor league game at shortstop in 2018) stoked this fire even more.
WE HAVE A REPLACEMENT FOR TIM ANDERSON!!!
I heard lewd comparisons to Jose Altuve and Dustin Pedroia (Madrigal is small, like really small, like 5’6″ and weighs slightly more than my biggest cat) as his comps and how he might even be better than them dudes. I saw people projecting .380 OBP for him in his prime. The excitement seemed insane to me, and believe you me, I am happy to get excited about shit that seems impossible, I’m a White Sox season ticket holder. I’m not sure how many players under 5’9″ have been top 5 picks this century, but it surely wasn’t many. Again, he is listed at 165 lbs, and this is a College Junior, not a High School kid that has yet to fill out. I don’t know how many folks of this weight or under have been picked this high in recent memory, but it can’t be a lot. I was told not to worry about any of that stuff, this kid has elite bat control and is the most polished hitter in this draft. He also doesn’t strike out, like hardly ever. The White Sox were just concluding a season in which they would set the all-time single season strike out record. Does not striking out really matter that much if you don’t hit the ball hard enough for it to go over the fence? I was confused. I wasn’t seeing what everyone else was.
The way I saw Madrigal, the way I still see Madrigal is that he looks like the guy on your little league team that was really good in little league and never got any better because all he could really do was put the ball in play all the time. In Little League, that’s a fucking terrific strategy, because you don’t have elite athletes covering materially all of the diamond, you have a fat kid at 3b who might catch a ball if you line it directly into his fat rolls. At 2b, you probably have a kid who looks like he should be able to play baseball, but really can’t. Your OF’s aren’t too splendid either. Yes, they are coordinated enough to ride their bike to the park, but their defensive baseball skills end at retrieving a ball, not “playing it”. See where I am going with this? If your entire skill set is never striking out, you are likely to be a star as long as catching the ball is a big problem. As you rise up the ranks, just putting the ball in play is a very tough strategy to execute. This is not to mention the pitchers knowing this shit as well. Oy vey.
Chorizy and I have been on the opposite side of the consensus on this from the get-butt. Mind you, this isn’t contrarianism for contrarianisms sake, this is two dudes, drinking a lot and talking shit and coming to the same goddamn conclusion. Now, you know us, you know the 108ers, if we think something, we are happy to tell you….we are also happy to listen to your opinion, that’s how conversations work. I for one am often confused by prospect talk. I know nothing about scouting, I couldn’t tell you dick about a guys swing or how he brings his ubula through the zone. I don’t know how the hips are supposed to be used, I take all my hips positioning advice from Chubbs Peterson. So this sort of commentary is taking the 10,000 ft view. I’m using empiricism and probability and most of it doesn’t agree with the consensus.
Anywho, when thinking about this, I just looked around and realized, hey, there aren’t many tiny players that become stars and the ones that have become stars have been long shots to do so. Also, the current MLB player needs to basically hit for power OR have an elite defensive profile at a premium position (like SS, because even Billy Hamilton was non-tendered), like Andrelton Simmons. Otherwise, it is very tough to be much of a player in this MLB. As I tried to come up with comparisons in profile, the only two players that seemed similar in playing style to Madrigal (good contact hitter without much power and good defender at 2b) from what I could dream up were DJ LeMaheiu (6-4 215 lbs) and Joe Panik (6-1 200 lbs), both decent players, but not stars, also these dudes are way huger than Madrigal. The truth is, the world where guys like Madrigal is a really good player is a dream world. Jose Altuve is basically a fucking Chupacabra, Madrigal ain’t becoming him, Altuve hits the ball really fucking hard. Dustin Pedroia has to be the 99th percentile outcome of Madrigal, he’ll need to add good weight and really start smacking the ball hard. When I say good weight, I don’t mean the type of weight that me and Wally$ are carrying, right around the old spare tire area, that weight is fine when creating the “motion in the ocean”, but not as good for impacting a baseball hard.
What I am saying is, without some changes, the dude as is ain’t becoming them dudes, in fact, we might be lucky to sneak a David Eckstein type guy out of him. A good player for a couple of years, that sort of declines into infield Jon Jay (a guy with no power, some speed and nice on-base skills), that’s workable, but that player doesn’t seem to cost too much on the open market (see Jon Jay’s career earnings). That player also doesn’t really need to play all the time. That’s basically Leury Garcia‘s role, well, Leury Garcia if he couldn’t grab a glove and fake the outfield. You don’t usually need to draft that 4th overall. Look, I’ll probably be way wrong on this and all of you will be right. You’ll be able to tell me “I TOLD YOU SO”…..the lineups you crafted where you had to move Moncada to Point Guard and Tim Anderson to Running Back to fit Madrigal into the lineup where he belongs, at the only position he can play, Second Base will be right and you’ll be able to piss in my Cheerios (as they used to say)…..but this is just my dumb, uneducated take, what do the fucking experts think….where is he rated on the top 100 prospect lists for 2019?
Keith Law – Just missed top 100 (listed 12th on his list of players that missed)
FINALLY!!!! Someone that isn’t a dumbass like myself, sort of agrees with this uphill battle ole Nicky boy is probably facing. Now, most of you reading this will be like, oh, but Keith Law hates the White Sox. I am pretty sure what I have read from Keith Law, most fans thinks he hates their team. That seems pretty consistent, so it isn’t likely he hates the White Sox more than anyone else. I’ll admit, I like Keith Law’s writing, he’s a bit of a prick in his writings, but he’s entertaining and I just like his perspective on baseball stuff. I’ll often check in on his chats (print or live video) and I am glad I did this time, because he talks for 2 mins about our top pick from 2018 in this one, start at the 35 minute mark. Pretty much hits the nail on the head for me.
Of course, I am rooting for Mr. Madrigal, I’d love to be wrong on this stuff. I would much rather be mashing hands with all of you fine folks after an RBI triple by Nicky. I’d love to watch him be a fucking vaccuum cleaner at 2b. I’ve been thinking “MAYBE HE CAN BECOME LIKE JOSE VIDRO”….that would be nice, but I really don’t buy it. I hope to be wrong, dead wrong.