Two rookies will be playing their trade in Chicago this year as second basemen for their respective teams. The similarities are staggering.
Let’s take a look:
- All Pac-12 team in 2018
- 2018 first round pick
- Both solid fielders with high bat-to-ball skills and occasional power
- One’s Nick, the other is Nico
Yeah, we’re talking about Nico Hoerner and Nick Madrigal. Or Nick Hoerner and Nico Madrigal. Nick Madrigal was picked 4th overall in the 2018 draft out of Oregon State, while Hoerner was picked 24th in the same draft.
At this point, Nico Hoerner has already made his big league debut, and impressed, despite bypassing AAA completely. He posted a 282/305/436 slash line while being pressed into emergency duty after Javier Baez broke his thumb and Addison Russell got beaned. He played shortstop almost exclusively, showing a strong arm and solid range and hands – despite one nightmare game against Pittsburgh where he had 2 errors out of three chances. He also impressed with his composure – he didn’t seem fazed by having to suddenly stop packing for the Arizona Fall League and head to San Diego to play in the National League. But at this point he pretty much has to flame out in Spring Training to not be the Cubs’ opening day second baseman.
Madrigal has yet to be within sniffing distance of Ricobene. But he has had as fast a rise through the White Sox’ farm system as Hoerner has through the Cubs – in fact, maybe faster. Madrigal played about 40% of the year each in A and AA before spending about a month in AAA. In that time he managed a very respectable slash line of 311/377/414 with only 16 strikeouts in 473 at bats. Like Hoerner, he was originally a shortstop. He moved to second base in college, as Cadyn Grenier was already established there. Unlike Hoerner, his arm will probably prevent him from ever being more than an emergency shortstop. Besides, like Hoerner, there’s already a young star getting the 6 on the scorecard – reigning AL batting champ* Tim Anderson.
While Hoerner will be the best rookie the Cubs have in 2020 to emerge from their farm system, Madrigal might only be second or third best. Michael Kopech will still have rookie status, and he’s reportedly already dialing his fastball back up to 100 MPH. And center fielder Luis Robert does more damage at the plate than Kobiyashi vs a bear.
But at any rate, this will be a fun few years to watch the middle of both infields in this town.