White Sox Minor Keys: Aug. 8, 2019

In a feature for The Athletic that ran Thursday, James Fegan called Nick Madrigal “your White Sox prospect’s favorite White Sox prospect.”

The same morning that went live, Keith Law posted his muted in-person reaction to seeing Madrigal at Triple-A. There’s some overlap in terms of comps, but they get there with vastly different attitudes:

Here’s Fegan:

It’s too bad that tropes about leadership and “doing the little things” have become such well-worn clichés that they are dismissed as valueless, because if there’s anyone who seems like the genuine article in both facets, it’s Madrigal. And just from watching his lightning turns of double plays and aggressive defense maneuvers up close, if there’s anybody who’s best suited to be appreciated moment to moment, inning to inning — especially in meaningful games — rather than in minor-league box scores and highlights, it’s also Madrigal.

And here’s Law:

I have seen him three times this year, as well, and keep coming back to David Eckstein — another diminutive middle infielder with a short swing and a great eye at the plate, although Eckstein was a better fielder and runner. Madrigal is going to have to hit for a pretty high average to be more than a soft regular, and I’m not sure he’ll make enough high-quality contact to do that.

These viewpoints are at odds with each other in terms of the enthusiasm with which they’re presented, yet they’re not mutually exclusive. I could see Madrigal meeting both as some sort of 30th-percentile outcome, hitting .280/.330/.360 at the majors and people from afar wondering what’s the big deal. I can also see him having enough inspired moments on the diamond where everybody around the White Sox treats him as a fixture when his numbers suggest he’s fungible with other middle infielders.

I agree with Fegan when he says that Madrigal’s approach to the game is wasted in an environment where development trumps wins as the chief objective. I’m curious how often his world-famous instincts and aggression will contribute to victories as the major-league level. That sentence can be read with cynicism, but I’m genuinely open-minded on the subject, because he doesn’t have contemporary comps. From his build to his approach to the zealotry of his fans — Dale Murphy is another one — Madrigal plays the same sport as everybody else, but he works within a different genre. Just like new music, if I don’t end up liking it, it won’t be because I didn’t want to like it.

Charlotte 7, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 4

  • Nick Madrigal went 1-for-5 with a CS.
  • Luis Robert was 1-for-5 with his eighth homer and two strikeouts.
  • Zack Collins went 0-for-3 with a walk.
  • Danny Mendick was 0-for-2 with two walks.
  • AJ Reed went 0-for-2 with a walk, HBP and a strikeout.
  • Seby Zavala was 0-for-4.
  • Kelvin Herrera: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K

Birmingham 5, Montgomery 1

  • Luis Gonzalez went 2-for-5 with a strikeout.
  • Laz Rivera was 0-for-4 with a K.
  • Blake Rutherford went 2-for-4 with a stolen base.
  • Gavin Sheets was 0-for-3 with an HBP.
  • Ti’Quan Forbes, 0-for-3 with a walk.
  • Bernardo Flores returned to Double-A: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 1 HR
  • Tyler Johnson: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K

Winston-Salem 8, Myrtle Beach 7

  • Steele Walker went 0-for-5 with a strikeout.
  • Andrew Vaughn was 2-for-5 with two doubles and a strikeout.
  • Kade McClure: 4 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 3 HR, 1 HBP

Kannapolis 2, Delmarva 1

  • Lenyn Sosa went 2-for-4 with two strikeouts.
  • Corey Zangari and Amado Nunez were 0-for-4 with a K.
  • Camilo Quinteiro was 1-for-3 with a strikeout.

Grand Junction 8, Great Falls 3

  • Cabera Weaver went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.
  • Luis Mieses was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
  • Sam Abbott, 1-for-3 with a homer and a walk.
  • Lency Delgado was 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.
  • Anderson Comas went 0-for-3 with a strikeout.
  • Kelvin Maldonado, 1-for-3 with a triple and a strikeout.

AZL White Sox 3, AZL Dodgers Lasorda 2

  • Jose Rodriguez went 2-for-4.
  • Sidney Pimentel was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
  • Micker Adolfo went 3-for-4 with a homer and triple.
  • DJ Gladney went 1-for-4 with a strikeout.
  • Bryan Ramos, 1-for-4.
  • Josue Guerrero was 0-for-4 with a K.
  • Logan Glass singled twice and struck out twice.
  • Victor Torres went 1-for-4 with a strikeout and was caught stealing.
  • Misael Gonzalez tripled and struck out twice.

DSL Orioles1 6, DSL White Sox 5

  • Yolbert Sanchez went 0-for-4.
  • Benyamin Bailey was 0-for-2 with three walks.
  • Alberto Bernal struck out his only time up.
  • Jefferson Mendoza went 1-for-4.
  • Cesar Jimenez went 1-for-2.
  • Anthony Espinoza replaced him and was 0-for-1.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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The Sox are setting up to have quite a healthy competition for relief spots next year. Good to see Tyler Johnson starting to look strong. Colome, Herrera, Bummer, Fry, Marshall, Cordero, Ruiz, Fulmer, Johnson, Burdi, Hamilton, Matt Foster, Zach Thompson, Osich should all be in the mix for potential options next year. That’s 14 guys, and I’m sure I left out a couple. That should be enough to put together a pretty formidable bullpen in 2020 and allow Rick, Kenny and Jerry to spend (or probably mis-spend) on starters and big bats.

lil jimmy

Codi Heuer, and Kodi Medeiros will be in the mix.


Really really interested to see if Madrigal finds some pop at Charlotte. He crushed my expectations at Birmingham, in spite of the fact that he didn’t increase his ISO at all from A ball. If the juiced ball can help him find even a little bit of pop, it will take such a huge amount of pressure off of his need to make a ton of contact.

Poor man’s David Eckstein would be such a disappointing outcome for the #4 pick in the draft (although I guess that would still be better than their first round picks from the prior 4 years).


I don’t take anything Keith Law says about the White Sox seriously.


That’s a weird stance to take, since he’s pretty much nailed his analysis of every white sox pick for the past 5+ years.


his people didnt think sale had a good breaking ball, he thought sale was massively over drafted but I am not gonna stick up for the majority of sox picks so law may have a few points

As Cirensica

He has in several opportunities recognized his failure at assessing Sale. Sale is not the only miss by Law. He actually posts every year on players he was wrong about.

Law is not perfect but his assessments are generally well put. I find nothing wrong when he says “Madrigal is going to have to hit for a pretty high average to be more than a soft regular” because it is true! Madrigal hasn’t shown any type of power yet, so if he is gonna hit singles, he better hit A LOT of them. As player matures, they tend to develop some power, not because they develop muscles but get better at recognizing what pitches to hit better. So I hope it becomes to that.


Ah well, if he got one player wrong 10 years ago, he must be terrible.

Trooper Galactus

I don’t know about poor man’s Eckstein, but I’d absolutely take an equivalent to Eckstein.


Eckstein had 2 good seasons his entire career. You don’t want Eckstein.


You’re not wrong, Keith, you’re just an asshole 

lil jimmy

Quality play up the middle is the key to good defense. If Madrigal is a superior defender at Second, He could elevate Anderson’s defense and help a pitching staff that accents ground balls. The runs you don’t give away are at least as important as the runs you score.
Keith Law doesn’t like him. Never has, never will. But he’s been wrong before.


I’ve admittedly missed a ton of Sox games this year. Anderson’s issues in the past have seemed to be rushing throws from deep at short, and booting grounders that are semi-routine. Has he had more trouble on double plays this year? In the past, I always felt he was pretty quick on the turn.

karkovice squad

It’s not just the double play, it’s also about reducing the ground Anderson has to cover up the middle, leaving him able to position himself for plays to his right to be more routine.


It’s not like Yolmer sucks at 2B defense though. Even if Madrigal is better, I doubt it is enough to have a significant difference on TA’s defense.


Yeah agreed, I thought Yolmer’s range is so fantastic that he would be a great shortstop if he had an arm. But maybe Madrigal’s range is better?

Josh Nelson

I would say it’s the same, not better than Yolmer’s.

karkovice squad

I’d expect it to be better than Yolmer’s with some experience and adapting to the pace of the game. He should be the better athlete.

karkovice squad

On a per play or per inning basis, Yolmer’s in the 2nd or 3rd tier of defenders at the position. He does have range but he fails on converting enough outs that he’s not really taking pressure off Anderson.


Ah got it. My eye test on this one appears to have failed.


Madrigal is gonna get a big boost in a lot of metrics for the way he can play 2nd, if the gold glove level defense is as good as advertised he wont have to do a ton to be a useful regular. The obvious keys are how high can his ave/obp climb vs mlb pitching if he isnt barreling enough balls, and can he make up additional value with his base running and general baseball IQ.

The pros of a bad 2019 sox lineup, is that a 2020 lineup will only need average level production from CF, RF, DH, 2nd to make a huge jump. I am hoping the sox bring up Robert and Madrigal to see if CF and 2nd can be handled internally, but they definitely could use a Grandal and or Castellanos type of free agent signings to really put them in a better position to have a balanced lineup. I’d prefer a true lefty to the additions of grandal and castellanos but Eloy is showing some reverse splits so it has become a bit less of a concern especially with grandal being a switch hitter.


I think we need to pump the breaks on Grandal. Only because I feel like if the Sox were going to sign him, they’d have done so last year, when they had absolutley no answer at catcher and an obvious need.

If we didn’t sign him then, I dont see us signing him when they know they will be cheaply bringing back Mccann and still have high hopes for Collins.

I’m not saying I agree with this at all. Grandal would be my top choice (after cole/Rendon of course). I just dont see it happening


1. Sox supposedly did have a big offer out to Grandal.

2. He wont have a QO this year so no draft pick compensation.

3. Id bring mccann back in a heart beat at worst he is a backup catcher at best he keeps hitting and Grandal can have reps at DH and 1B. Worse problems in the world to have then 2 solid catchers. Especially when Ricky has shown a willingness to DH his catchers quite a bit.

I guess my main point is I have 0 faith in the sox winning a bidding war on Rendon and or Cole (prove me wrong!) but I dont think they are going to need to go sky high in terms of payroll to land Grandal and Castellanos especially considering the money they have coming off the books. Those 2 with the emergence of Robert and Madrigal in the lineup basically swap 4 dead weight positions for 4 average to good positional situations… that uptick could be huge for 2020 and beyond.


If I understand correctly, a number of teams had serious offers for Grandal. He just refused to budge. Maybe the Sox go all-in on Grandal but it is easy to doubt that. Calhoun might be an option in RF. Maybe Gardner if he keeps playing and is willing to leave NY. Or both and rotate an OF through DH


I would be shocked if the Sox even got involved in Rendon. They are going to hang their hats on Moncada’s season, and Madigral’s potential. Now I personally think you bring in elite talent when you can, and make the pieces work. However, I don’t see anyway they even make an offer to Rendon.


I tend to agree. Its too bad one of those three couldnt handle ss, could open up options to move tim to RF but oh well. Management doesnt care what numbers say Timmy is an elite defender.


Rendon probably wouldnt be interested but it would be nice if they could bring him in the to play most his games in right or something and cover some across the infield. Just doubt you shell out that kind of money to move someone off his spot

Trooper Galactus

You do if it fills a need and you want to win.

Trooper Galactus

The White Sox had a serious offer? Like what? One could argue that their offer to Machado was serious despite basically being designed to fail.


I know we’re not in a position to turn our nose up at good players, but goddamn I don’t want this team getting Castellanos. He’s young enough that he would probably get pissy about having to dh, and he’s such a liability in the field he doesn’t improve the team at all. Which means, of course, he’s how the money is going to get spent.

Trooper Galactus

I’m with you on Castellanos. Eloy is basically supposed to be Castellanos with a better bat (and possibly even worse defense), so this just seems like doubling down on our weaknesses without adding enough elsewhere. While his youth and the lack of a QO are attractive selling points, I don’t think he fills a need so much as exacerbates them.

Edit: Also, Boras client, so you can pretty much forget it.

Yolmer's gatorade

I am skeptical of these Madrigal’s career must be like x player because he is also short arguments. Why would Madrigal end up with David Eckstein’s career as opposed to Dustin Pedroia’s or Jose Altuve’s? They are all short. Pedroia’s and Altuve’s AA numbers are not far from Madrigal’s, and Madrigal played in Birmingham’s notoriously dead-ball ballpark.

Yolmer's gatorade

It seems pretty natural for any hitter to pull inside pitches. Madrigal might not have the pop that Pedroia or Altuve developed, but that does not mean he will automatically become a soft regular. He has excellent plate coverage and a great batting eye, which will make it very, very difficult for pitchers to get him out without making perfect pitches.


I’ve always felt like Whit Merrifield was the best hopeful comp for Madrigal anyways, its weird to me that I never seem to see his name comped. Whit with less slugging is still probably a 4 WAR tier leadoff man at 2B. Pretty good.


Now that Robert has 8 homeruns in each of the three levels he’s played at this year, it’s time to call him up for a chance at 8 in the big leagues.

Lurker Laura

I hope Madrigal hits .400 on nothing but singles, sprinkled with some doubles because of his speed, and breaks baseball.


I am a reasonable person, and my modest expectation is that he’s Tony Gwynn with more defensive and baserunning value. I’m sorry to be a wet blanket.


Bad comp. He wasnt short/white. Default is Eckstein


I’m banking on Nellie Fox, and that would break baseball.


As long as these comps to Gwynn and Fox do not involve chewing tobacco or cancer, bring ’em on.