Sacramento, Ca, native Nicklaus Michael Madrigal came to the Cubs (with Cody Heuer) in the Craig Kimbrel trade. He had been the No. 4 overall pick in the first round of the 2018 Amateur Draft, out of Oregon State, chosen by the White Sox.
He has suffered injury after injury and is just now approaching numbers consistent with a full season of Major League ball, after four calendar years in The Show. His line is .291/.337/.360, with 31 bases on balls and 52 strikeouts in 156 games over which he has made 589 plate appearances.
He’s a good bet to hit .300 in a full year. He gets on base via the batted ball. That’s pretty much it. His glove isn’t anything special, he doesn’t steal bunches of bases. He just hits.
We’re seeing that this year, as a healthy Madrigal is trying to stay in the majors by hitting his way in. His contact skills are special, and he gets hits off balls that most people wouldn’t swing at. But he’s not going to beat out Nico Hoerner, who also has special bat-to-ball skills, and a special glove and special baserunning abilities to boot, so his natural position at second is filled by a better player.
He’s played a little third base this year, and I’m hoping he doesn’t see much more time there. Maybe he could try center field as a backup at that position. He’s a nice guy to have for later innings when you need a player to get on base and start a rally, but that’s really his best foot forward, the way the Cubs are constructed. He’s not going to beat Patrick Wisdom or Cody Bellinger, or even Edwin Rios, out of a job. Quoted by Meghan Montemurro in the Tribune:
“I really don’t care where I’m at. I feel like I can play multiple positions. I haven’t bounced around too much in my life. I feel like I’m fully capable of doing it ... And we’re all here to win. ... I’m not looking at anything personally — where I want to play, where I’m going to be. I don’t know what the lineup part’s going to look like in a couple months. Whatever they throw at me, I feel like I can help this team in a lot of ways.”
A change of scenery might benefit Madrigal. Maybe for somebody’s No. 10 prospect or something like that. I’ve seen worse second basemen on teams the Cubs have played. For now, he’s insurance against a Hoerner or Swanson injury, and an understudy at second and third. He’s on a one-year deal and is unlikely at this point to get another year from the Cubs, but he’d be very useful to a team needing a leadoff pest with a decent glove.
Not that he isn’t useful to the Cubs. He’s one of those people who become a pleasant problem for management later in the year, like Cody Bellinger. What to do with them if they are really good?
Like this: Nick Madrigal is now batting .314 with a 113 wRC+ in 37 PA.
“As always, we await developments.”