It makes sense that Andrew Vaughn and Nick Madrigal would impress the evaluators.
They impressed one of the best pitchers in baseball last summer.
Well, maybe "impressed" isn't the best word.
"They're a pain in my ass," Lucas Giolito said after facing the two youngsters during "Summer Camp" ahead of the 2020 season.
Obviously the White Sox are hoping that Vaughn and Madrigal will inspire similar feelings in opposing pitchers for the better part of the next decade, and MLB.com seems to think things might turn out that way, ranking each youngster as the top prospect at their respective positions in recent days.
The site is in the process of updating its rankings of all the prospects in baseball, going position by position before revealing its top 100 on Friday. It's safe to say they're big fans of the right side of the White Sox infield of the future.
Of course, half of that combination is part of the White Sox infield of the present, Madrigal making his major league debut last year and playing in 29 games during the shortened 2020 season. Despite a few memorable mistakes in the field and on the base paths, he was as advertised at the plate, showing a refusal to strike out and a penchant for making contact. He hit .340 with a .376 on-base percentage, striking out only seven times in 109 trips to the plate. He notably earned the nickname "Nicky Two Strikes" from broadcaster Jason Benetti for a jaw-dropping .321 batting average with two strikes.
MLB.com ranked Madrigal as the game's top second base prospect, though he's likely not long for the list after spending most of last season as a major leaguer.
Meanwhile, Vaughn could very well make his own debut in 2021, though he's unlikely to be installed as the White Sox everyday first baseman, what with reigning American League MVP José Abreu manning the position for at least the next two seasons. Vaughn is a first baseman in the long run, but if his bat — which has managed to impress in limited action since he was drafted in 2019 — is too valuable to leave out of the big league lineup, he could see plenty of time as the designated hitter, and he's already a legitimate candidate to serve as the everyday starter at that position as soon as this season.
Vaughn, though, didn't get into any game action in 2020 with the minor league season cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic. He's played a grand total of 55 games as a pro, none of them above A-ball, which raises perfectly valid questions about his readiness to contribute at the major league level for a team with World Series aspirations.
But MLB.com's assessment of Vaughn as the game's top first base prospect, not to mention the White Sox own endless praise of Vaughn as a hitter, points to what could be.
Both Vaughn and Madrigal were described as advanced bats when they were drafted with top five picks in 2019 and 2018, respectively, helping explain their relatively quick rise through the farm system to become potentially important contributors at the opening of the White Sox contention window. They're both part of the team's long-term planning for perennial contention.
As for 2021, both could be daily fixtures in the White Sox lineup, meaning they could be key cogs in a championship chase on the South Side.