Nick Madrigal Quickly Finds Himself In Chicago White Sox Camp

Image credit: Nick Madrigal (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — White Sox prospect Nick Madrigal experienced a year in 2018 that only a handful of baseball players will ever know.

In the span of eight months he …

  • Won a College World Series championship with Oregon State.
  • Went fourth overall in the 2018 MLB Draft.
  • Played his first 43 games as a professional.
  • Earned an invitation to Chicago’s spring training camp in Arizona’s Cactus League.

Not bad.

And the whirlwind hasn’t stopped yet.

Despite the craziness of finding himself in his first big league spring training camp, Madrigal said he feels as if he belongs at Camelback Ranch, where the White Sox train.

“I’m out there just trying to go as hard as I can and just play my game,” he said. “I’m not too worried about anything else. I feel comfortable at this point.”

A speedy, contact-hitting middle infielder who struck out only five times in 155 at bats in his 43 minor league games, Madrigal went 1 for 3 at the plate, drove in a run and made a nifty play at second during a split-squad game in his spring training debut on Saturday.

Madrigal is ranked 43rd on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects of 2019, one of five White Sox prospects on the list, including four in the top 50.

He hit a combined .303/.353/.348 with White Sox affiliates in the rookie-level Arizona League, Class A South Atlantic League and Class A Advanced Carolina League last summer.

In 2015 the Indians selected him in the 17th round of the MLB Draft out of Elk Grove (California) High School, the 514th player taken overall. He had committed to Oregon State and that, along with his 5-foot-7, 165-pound stature, might have scared some organizations away.

At any rate, Madrigal was convinced that he should have gone higher and decided to prove it at Oregon State.

“Going through high school, I had a chance to go into the draft and something just didn’t feel right,” he said. “I was watching on the television and seeing a lot of my friends and people I played with getting drafted in the first round, and something just didn’t sit right.

“I knew I was good enough to be one of those guys.”

It cemented his decision to honor a commitment to the Beavers.

He was convinced as soon as he reached Corvallis, Oregon, that he was going to be part of the team that delivered a national championship.

“It was something I envisioned before I even committed,” he said. “So, it wasn’t something that didn’t seem possible.”

The Beavers fell short of that goal during Madrigal’s first two seasons. They were one win away from reaching the CWS final in 2017 before losing two straight games against Louisiana State. The Beavers buckled down and made their motive clear every day during the 2018 college season.

“We weren’t afraid to talk about it,” Madrigal said. “Every day we showed up to practice, we talked about winning, and it was pretty clear what our goal was.”

In late June, the Beavers accomplished their goal, defeating Arkansas in Game 3 of the CWS final, 5-0. After losing their opening game of the tournament, the Beavers faced six elimination games over 11 days and won them all.

That crowning moment came just a few weeks after Madrigal heard his name called in the draft, 510 spots higher than in 2015.

“It was great,” he said. “It was something I had worked toward for a long time, and to celebrate it with my family, it was just overall a happy moment for all of us.”

Madrigal now finds himself in the Cactus League as a non-roster invitee after only a couple months in the minor leagues. Although he is not expected to be with the big club on Opening Day, the experience is invaluable.

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson said his advice to Madrigal this spring is to not be too hard on himself and enjoy the moment.

“I remember my first year at big league camp, I kind of just felt overwhelmed,” Anderson said. “Be in control of everything and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. It’s just one of those things, learn and enjoy every moment of it and soak it up.”

Madrigal is doing that, and taking time to appreciate all that he has accomplished.

So far.

“I am very thankful for everything that happened last year and for every opportunity I got,” he said. “It is something I’ll take with me for the rest of my life.

“I know it’s not the end goal at all. I’m not satisfied just being here. I have a lot more ahead of me.”

Stephen Perez is a senior majoring in sports journalism at Arizona State University. This story is a part of a partnership between Baseball America and Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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