Camelback Confidential: Beefed-up rookies impress

The Magic Man: Nick Madrigal is getting ready to take over second base in the not-so-distant future. (Sean Williams/South Side Hit Pen)


The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz. as pitchers, catchers, and the position players who have reported early took the field this afternoon for batting practice and fielding work at the complex.

What was otherwise a quiet day was broken up at times by Eloy Jiménez‘s laugh and infectious personality, echoing throughout the back fields. He was excited to be there, as well as the rest of the guys, all who appeared to be having a good time. But when it came time to work, they were all business as well.

Speaking of being all business, Blake Rutherford participated in today’s workout and there were mentions of him hitting the weight room during the offseason. After seeing Rutherford in person today, I can confirm that he definitely looks like he’s packed on a lot of muscle and overall, he looks really good heading into the spring. He took batting practice this afternoon and had some of the best rounds among all participants. Even though it’s just batting practice — which can make anyone look good — Rutherford was consistently driving the ball, and the ball was exploding off his bat all afternoon.

After struggling in Double-A last season, the clock is ticking with Rutherford and he needs to find a way to make himself stand out if he wants to earn a role in Chicago down the line. Perhaps today was the start of that for him. His launch angle was solid during batting practice, and if he can continue to do that there’s potential for Rutherford to have a major increase in power this season when factoring in his added muscle as well.

Joining Rutherford in the unofficial White Sox offseason weight club was Nick Madrigal, who also came to spring training looking more filled out. Madrigal has talked about strength training being a focus of his since he joined the organization, and he backed that up by displaying a more muscular build at Camelback Ranch today. Madrigal didn’t hit this afternoon, but he did go through fielding drills, where he excelled just as you’d expect. Madrigal went through standard drills that involved fielding grounders and either flipping them to second base or throwing to first base. He was getting some reps with regulars like Tim Anderson and José Abreu. With Anderson and Madrigal working on turning double plays together, fans in attendance got a glimpse into the future.

White Sox 2019 first round selection Andrew Vaughn also took the field today to work on defense with the rest of the guys. For the most part, Vaughn had a good day in the field. He scooped up a glove-side chopper on a tough play that drew praise from the members of the coaching staff. Overall, he held his ground during drills, and his throws to second base were almost completely accurate — you can tell that Vaughn played all over the infield while growing up into the game. This marks Vaughn’s first invite to spring training and while he obviously won’t break camp with the team, it will be interesting to see how he handles playing against guys in the majors or close to it.

You can tell that the players who were at Camelback Ranch today are ready to get the season started. In previous years, the vibe was more loose and fun. Don’t get me wrong: There were still glimpses of that same vibe today. However, it seems like these guys are a little more serious this time around, as they get ready to close the book on the rebuild and grow into a winning team.

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I was born a raised in Chicago, but currently live in Phoenix, AZ. I developed a passion for sports at an early age once I started participating in them. This lead to me wanting to follow sports regularly, and to keep up with the professional and college teams. I’m a Bears, White Sox, Bulls, and Blackhawks fan.

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Aaron Sapoznik
Aaron Sapoznik
4 months ago

Hopefully the “glimpse into the future” of Nick Madrigal commences as soon as opening day versus the Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field. I believe the 2B job is his to lose this spring which could very well mean a MLB extension is coming his way on the eve of the opener, similar to what occurred with Eloy Jimenez last March.

Phillip Anthony Farina
Phillip Anthony Farina
4 months ago

Was there a Jake Burger siting?

Al y
Al y
4 months ago

How did Sheets do? Any improvement in his power?

Brett Ballantini
4 months ago
Reply to  Sean Williams

Based on what he did with a flat ball in a tough park last year, I expect HUGE things from Gavin in Charlotte this year.

katiesphil
Editor
katiesphil
4 months ago

So, what’s the over/under on BSOML stories in the next week?

Seriously, though, thanks for the story. Being old, I still always wonder if packing on extra muscle can have deleterious effects on speed and flexibility. I know that these folks today have specialists working with them to pinpoint where and how they add bulk, and so this is not the issue it was a few decades past. I hold fears of lithe, flexible types turning themselves into Joe Piscopo.

Sean Williams
Sean Williams
4 months ago
Reply to  katiesphil

Haha there will probably be a lot of those stories, so whatever the bar is set at I’ll take the over. Both Madrigal and Rutherford look like they’ve added good weight, if that makes sense? They don’t look like bodybuilders, but what they’ve added pairs well with their frame. Thank you for reading!

CHARLES WAGGONER
CHARLES WAGGONER
4 months ago

Good stuff, exciting future!