In the days leading up to the 2018 MLB Draft, most of the chatter surrounding the White Sox’ plans with the fourth pick revolved around Oregon State’s smooth-hitting on-base machine, Nick Madrigal, and Florida’s fierce righty, Brady Singer.
The fan-favorite was Oregon State’s Nick Madrigal, while the general belief was that the White Sox would continue to add to their plethora of elite arms throughout the system by taking Brady Singer, who finished his junior season with a pristine 11-1 record complimented by a 2.27 ERA and a dizzying 98/19 K/BB ratio.
Much to the delight of the fan-base, the White Sox opted to add the most polished college bat in the draft in Madrigal, rather than the fiery right-hander from Florida with the fourth overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. But it wasn’t only the fans that were thrilled with the pick, as director of amateur scouting Nick Hostetler expressed his pleasure in a text message to our David Wildman last night.
After spending the evening digging around, I quickly realized why Nick Hostetler raved about the five-foot-seven infielder’s makeup to David. Every story you open, everything you read, someone close to Madrigal is raving about his makeup.
I loved Brady Singer at number four for the White Sox. I saw Singer live in last year’s College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. I watched hours of game film on the righty this spring as we approached the draft. Aside from his electric stuff, his electric competitiveness was what sold me on him. After spending the last 24 hours investigating anything I can find on Madrigal, I can safely say that he possesses that same intangible, and in a heavy dose, which makes me feel so much better about the selection.
Madrigal’s star power at Oregon State is nothing new, as Joe Davidson of the Sacramento Bee highlighted in a phenomenal story with insight from Nick’s father, Mike last night.
Madrigal earned his first collegiate scholarship offer before he ever stepped foot on the Elk Grove high school (CA) campus, and never looked back. Madrigal was a standout at Elk Grove H.S. just outside of his hometown of Sacramento before making his way to Corvallis, Ore. He was even drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 17th round of the 2015 MLB Draft before opting to stay in school, and earned Sacramento Bee co-Player of the Year honors, an award that he shared with his brother Ty Madrigal.
“Nick has earned it, and no one’s worked harder,” Elk Grove coach Jeff Carlson
At Oregon State, Madrigal compiled a career (three seasons) slash line of .367/.428/.512 with a .940 OPS. Madrigal’s elite 65-hit tool (MLB Pipeline) is a product of his 202 hits during his three seasons and 551 at-bats for the Beavers, but his eye and plate discipline is potentially the biggest contributing factor.
Madrigal walked just 54 times in 138 games at Oregon State, but his ability to just flat out hit the baseball allowed him to strike out a microscopic 35 times in 551 at-bats, or just 5.6 percent of the time. This season, Madrigal’s five strikeouts were good for a 3.7 strikeout rate.
Madrigal’s five-foot-seven frame might never produce big home run numbers, but his pure hitting ability and his plus speed (60-grade) allowed him to notch a 27.2 extra base hit percentage in his three seasons at Oregon State. Madrigal notched 37 doubles, 11 triples and 33 stolen bases, putting his speed on full display in college.
One knock on collegiate hitters is always the aluminum bat factor. We all know that hit tools don’t always translate to hits once you put a wood bat in a kid’s hands, taking away the bleeders and bloopers powered by the magical BBCOR bats, and making them barrel the ball up with a wood. Madrigal spent the summer of 2015 playing for the Corvallis Knights, a collegiate summer program in Corvallis, Ore. The Knights are a member of the West Coast League, a prestigious wood bat only summer league.
During his 2015 stint with the Corvallis Knights, Madrigal hit .303 in 178 at-bats, notching nine doubles, two triples, 20 RBI and struck out just seven times (3.48 K%), painting a confident picture regarding his ability to translate his hit-tool to the wood bat game at the professional level.
The second qualm about the Madrigal pick, is his fit with the ballclub, who currently boasts Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada at shortstop and second base respectively. While many will contend that you don’t draft for need that high in the draft, there will come a day in the not-too-distant future where the White Sox will be faced with a dilemma centered around where the three youngsters will play.
White Sox director of scouting Nick Hostetler said that they will roll Madrigal out in the minor leagues as an infielder that will spend time up the middle and at third base. Madrigal is confident that he can play any of the three at the major league level, and is willing to do whatever the team needs when that day comes.
“If they needed me to grab an outfield glove, I could do that, too.” — Nick Madrigal on his willingness to play anywhere the White Sox need him to.
Despite many pundit’s belief that Madrigal’s arm wont play from the left side of second base at the major league level, Madrigal believes it can, and the White Sox will put that to the test early when he joins an affiliate after Oregon State’s College World Series run concludes this month.
At the end of the day, and impending position battles aside, the White Sox nabbed a pure hitter with speed who projects as a top of the order weapon, and has drawn major league comparisons ranging from Houston Astros’ second-baseman Jose Altuve, to Boston Red Sox’ second-baseman Dustin Pedroia.
Madrigal’s elite hit tool is expected to have him bypass rookie ball altogether, as Scot Gregor of the Daily Herald reported on Monday night, Madrigal will likely start his professional career in Advanced-A ball with the Winston-Salem Dash.
In the mean time, you can watch Madrigal in action with Oregon State as they battle the Golden Gophers of Minnesota this weekend in Corvallis, Ore., with all three games being televised on EPSN2.
Follow Patrick Flowers on Twitter — Feature Photo Credit: University of Oregon State Athletics