Nick Madrigal believes he can be White Sox’ Opening Day second baseman

Nick Madrigal believes he’s major-league-ready. He just has to prove it to the White Sox, who aren’t so sure yet.

SHARE Nick Madrigal believes he can be White Sox’ Opening Day second baseman
merlin_82216840.jpg

Nick Madrigal feels like he’s ready to make his major-league debut.

AP

Prospect Nick Madrigal believes he’s major-league-ready. He just has to prove it to the White Sox, who aren’t so sure yet.

The Sox declined to tender 2019 Gold Glove winner Yolmer Sanchez last month, paving the way for Madrigal this season.

As it stands, general manager Rick Hahn said the Sox will rely on Leury Garcia, Danny Mendick and Madrigal to hold down the fort at second.

Could Madrigal be the Sox’ Opening Day second baseman?

“I feel like it’s a very realistic [possibility],” Madrigal said Friday. “I’m hopeful for it.”

But Hahn, who has practiced patience with all of the Sox’ prospects during the rebuild, seemed a little more hesitant about Madrigal.

“He’s viable, but he’s got a few more things to prove,” Hahn said. “I think that when we go through trying to be as objective as possible, thinking about where he is developmentally, he hasn’t necessarily answered all the questions we have for him in the minor leagues.

“I don’t think we have him by any means written in pen as the Opening Day second baseman at this point. . . . But could he change our minds? Yeah.”

During a SoxFest panel Saturday, director of player development Chris Getz noted that Madrigal wasn’t pleased with the Sox’ decision to start him at advanced Class A Winston-Salem last season.

But rather than pout, Madrigal kept his mind on the larger goal: to make it to the majors.

Madrigal ultimately finished 2019 with Class AAA Charlotte, making a stop at Class AA Birmingham along the way. He made a statement with his bat with a .311/.377/.414 slash line in a combined 108 games.

Toward the end of the season, Madrigal, the No. 4 prospect in the Sox’ organization, expected to receive a September call-up, but his phone never rang.

Madrigal’s offense seems to be there — he struck out only 16 times in 473 at-bats last season — but his defense needs some work. That’s why he spent this offseason focusing on speed and mobility to help remove any doubt the Sox might have that he’s not ready for the big leagues.

“This is probably the best shape I’ve ever been in,” Madrigal said. “So I feel really good at this point.”

At this point, one of the only things working against Madrigal is his inexperience. Manager Rick Renteria still wants to see Madrigal — who played only 28 games with Charlotte — get a few more at-bats and fielding experience in the minors.

There’s a chance Madrigal could surprise the Sox’ brass and break spring training with the big-league club.

“We’re going to go in with fresh eyes and a fresh approach in spring training and see where he’s at,” Hahn said. “And in all probability, make an assessment there.”

It’s more likely that he’ll start his season in Charlotte.

Regardless, expect Madrigal to make his major-league debut in 2020.

“That’s something I’ve been ready for,’’ Madrigal said. ‘‘I’ve had it in the back of my mind since the end of last season. I felt like I had a good chance of going up there last year, but it kind of just wasn’t in the cards. But if they say it to me today, I’d be ready.”

The Latest
The entertaining ‘Facing Nolan’ gets the taciturn pitcher to discuss his life and his competitive side.
NFL
The team has a waiting list of 140,000 for 81,441-seat Lambeau Field, which means a long time on the list.
Lesly Morales has been missing since late April, family said.
The Committee on Public Safety approved the mayor’s ordinance by a comfortable vote of 14 to 3 that did not reflect the barrage of concerns raised about a crackdown roundly condemned as a toothless and desperate headline-grabber that will have no impact on youth violence.