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White Sox's newly signed top draft pick Nick Madrigal: 'I play to win'

White Sox's newly signed top draft pick Nick Madrigal: 'I play to win'
Oregon State's Nick Madrigal chases after a chopper through the infield against Arkansas during Game 1 of the College World Series on June 26, 2018 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb. (Peter Aiken / Getty Images)

This is the way winners talk.

“In 10 years, I don’t think anyone is going to know how many hits I got the last two days of the season, but they’re going to remember I’m a national champion,’’ Nick Madrigal said Thursday during a teleconference.

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Madrigal, the fourth pick of last month’s amateur draft, signed a minor-league contract with the White Sox that included a $6.4 million bonus. Just one week after winning the College World Series with Oregon State, Madrigal will begin his professional career in the Arizona Fall League before heading to Class A Kannapolis.

That was the first sign the Sox had signed a gamer. The second came in how Madrigal responded to a question about his 1-for-13 performance against Arkansas in the CWS final.

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“I felt good during the series, felt comfortable in the box, felt like I hit some balls right at guys, but that’s baseball,’’ added Madrigal, one of the top hitters in the country with a .367 average with eight doubles, six triples, three home runs and 34 RBIs with a .428 on-base percentage in 42 games.

“I feel like I gave everything I could to that team. I don’t play for myself and I don’t play to get hits. I play to win. We did exactly that.’’

Somewhere, Sox vice president Ken Williams pumps a fist. That’s the grinder mentality Williams loves and, at 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds, Madrigal offers intangibles that make him ideal for the South Side mentality. Scouts rave about Madrigal’s eye at the plate, but his attitude sets him apart.

On jumping back into action after only a short break he used to adjust to wooden bats: “I was excited just to put the White Sox logo on, to wear the uniform.’’

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On developing an edge because of his smallish stature: “It’s easy for people to think I have a chip on my shoulder because I’m undersized, but I’ve always played the game confident. When I get on the field, I feel like I’m the best player out there. I’ve always embraced that.”

On playing second base, his position at Oregon State, or shortstop for the Sox: “It really doesn’t matter to me, and I do mean that.’’

Madrigal will jump on the fast track this weekend at shortstop, the same position once played by another natural Sox leader who had to overcome the knock that he was undersized. Ozzie Guillen played 13 years for the Sox, making the All-Star team three times — and his story is well-known to Madrigal.

Madrigal’s manager at Oregon State, Pat Casey, played with Guillen in the Padres minor-league system before the 1984 trade that sent Ozzie to Chicago.

“That was one of the first things (Casey) said after I was drafted, that he was close with him,’’ Madrigal said. “I thought that was pretty cool, how small the baseball world is.’’

It’s at his feet now.

Twitter @DavidHaugh

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