The Chicago White Sox on Monday announced the first 44 players of their 60 man roster pool for the upcoming pandemic-shortened 60 game season. The expanded roster helps team guard against one or many players testing positive for Covid-19 and ensuring that they are still able to finish the season. For the White Sox, several of their top prospects made the roster, including second baseman Nick Madrigal and first baseman Andrew Vaughn, both of who could contribute significantly if the team needs them to step in.
Before the start of the 2020 season was postponed, Chicago had designated their plans for both players as Madrigal was to begin the season in Triple-A Charlotte before joining the team midway through the year. Vaughn was to spend the majority of the season in the minors, with him potentially being a September callup depending on how the White Sox season was going so far. Both players are listed in the top 50 of MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects, as their hitting ability is their best attribute.
Of the two, Madrigal has the likelier chance to make his major league debut this season due to his defensive ability as he can play both second base and shortstop. The former 2018 first-round pick for Chicago batted .311 in 121 games across the minors in 2019 and has only struck 21 times throughout his minor league career. With the vast amount of talent prospects the White Sox have accumulated over the years, Madrigal is the best pure contact hitter the team has had in recent memory.
There are different expectations for Vaughn as the team projects him as the next big run producer and power hitter alongside outfielders Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert. The 2019 first-round pick has drawn comparisons to Hall of Fame first baseman Jeff Bagwell due to his swing and potential power to the gaps. Where there is a position waiting for Madrigal, Vaughn’s playing time will be blocked by starters Jose Abreu and Edwin Encarnacion at first base and the designated hitter spot.
If both player do end up making their Major league debut and get significant playing time due to team members testing positive, they could provide a big lift for the White Sox. Madrigal could be paired in the lineup with shortstop Tim Anderson to have back to back .300 hitters whether be one two or have them bat nine one in the order. The same would apply to Vaughn would fill in for Abreu or Encarnacion if they quarantined for testing positive. He would add protection in the lineup, and could get the pitches Jimenez and catcher Yasmani Grandal are not getting.
It would be a similarly beneficial situation to that the Cubs experience in 2015 when they made it to the National League Championship Series against the New York Mets. Their 97 win season was partially driven by several prospects they brought up that produced in a big way offensively. Third baseman Kris Bryant and outfielder Kyle Schwarber were called up during the season and combined for 42 home runs and 142 RBIs. It was because of their presence in the lineup that made others in the lineup just as threatening for pitchers, including Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell, and Jorge Soler. Vaughn and Madrigal will not be able to put up those numbers, but their additions, if needed, would have a positive impact on the White Sox lineup.
The White Sox are making the right choice having both players on the roster. In the case the team needs the two, the lineup might not see a dropoff in production. Madrigal and Vaughn have proven the capability to have the potential to be successful immediately once they debut. If Chicago has success in 2020, it will be because of their young core, including the possible additions of their last two first-round selections.