White Sox fans’ most recent round of fury came at the start of September, when the team announced that Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal, two of the team’s top-ranked prospects, wouldn’t make their major league debuts in the final month of the 2019 season.
Well, it sounds like fans won’t have to wait too much longer to see those two players on the South Side.
General manager Rick Hahn said during his end-of-season press conference Friday that the team expects Robert and Madrigal to be the major league team’s center fielder and second baseman, respectively, for the majority of the 2020 campaign.
So when will they get here?
“I don't know when exactly Luis Robert will arrive come 2020 or when Nick Madrigal will arrive in 2020,” Hahn said. “I would say based upon their seasons, probably have Luis a tick ahead of Nick in terms of projected arrival time. But we'll see how they show up in camp and how that unfolds.
“I think we can sit here and say that — similar to Eloy (Jimenez) a year ago — that we expect Luis Robert to be playing center field for most if not all of the 2020 season. Nick Madrigal playing second base? Probably most of the 2020 season. But let's wait and see how he comes to camp and what this offseason holds.”
This comes as little surprise, really. Robert was dominant in the minor leagues, named by several sites as the minor league player of the year after flashing his five-tool ability at three different levels. Madrigal was impressive, too, showing his ability to avoid the strikeout as well as the other aspects of his game that made him the fourth pick in the draft last summer.
Considering how the White Sox handled top-ranked prospect Eloy Jimenez in 2018, it makes total sense that they would handle Robert, specifically, the same way. The same service-time issues surround this latest top-flight prospect, and though Hahn and the White Sox have never mentioned and will never mention service time as the basis for their decision, there’s a very convincing argument to be made when it comes to delaying Robert and Madrigal’s promotions to earn an extra year of team control.
Hence why seeing one or both players at some point in mid or late April next season seems like a safe bet. That, of course, could be impacted by a potential contract extension or two this winter, which is what allowed Jimenez to land on the Opening Day roster back in March.
Hahn’s comments Friday, though, reaffirm that both Robert and Madrigal, regardless of when they make their big league debuts, will be key pieces of this White Sox core beginning in the 2020 season.