On May 27, the Chicago White Sox signed top international prospect Luis Robert to a minor league contract including a hefty $26 million signing bonus. The 6′ 2″, 210 pound 19-year-old outfielder from Cuba has hit .315 with 28 doubles, six triples, 20 home runs, 92 RBI, with a .402 on-base and .467 slugging percentage in 210 career games. After a torrid offseason brought in a plethora of young talents, the addition of Robert makes the White Sox prospect pool even more impressive.
Chicago White Sox Prospect Stockpile Growing Deeper
“We are excited to add Luis – another young, extremely talented and impactful prospect – to the White Sox organization,” said White Sox senior vice president/general manager Rick Hahn. “Luis has the potential to be a dynamic, five-tool player at the major-league level, and we look forward to watching him develop in our system over coming seasons. Luis will immediately be viewed as one of the top prospects in baseball, and his signing adds to the growing depth of quality young players within our organization.”
It is rumored that Robert will begin his professional career in the Dominican Summer League, as he already has a support structure in the region. He had been training there since he defected from Cuba in November. Otherwise, he’s likely to end up in either Low- or High-A.
Rare Hyperbole from Scouts
The right-hander has a strong, lean, athletic frame. His compact swing and exceptional bat speed combine for top-level exit velocity that leads to impressive home runs. The scouting report on Robert indicates that he’ll chase the high fastball and frequently fails to make contact. He’s also susceptible to breaking balls out of the zone. He excels when driving the ball the opposite way. Robert projects to be a center fielder after demonstrating good speed in both Cuba and the Dominican. All these tools caused one international scouting director to describe him as “the best player on the planet, and that’s no exaggeration.”
MLB pipeline rates him number 25 among all prospects, and the number 10 fledgling outfielder. They place him third in the White Sox system, just south of fellow Cuban Yoan Moncada and fireballer Michael Kopech, both of whom were acquired by Chicago in the blockbuster Chris Sale deal with the Boston Red Sox this winter.
Another Prospect on the Pile
One of the more interesting aspects of the signing is that he reportedly turned down more money from the St. Louis Cardinals. Judging by some of the comments on various chat boards, Cardinals fans were not exactly excited by that truism. One of the main reasons for this is the White Sox penchant for developing Cuban players. In addition to the aforementioned Moncada, Jose Abreu has been a fixture at first base for the big league team since he came over to begin the 2014 season. Both Abreu and Moncada played a role in wooing the budding superstar through a recruiting video.
The White Sox history with Cuban players goes beyond the current roster. Alexei Ramirez manned shortstop from 2008 to 2015. Dayan Viciedo was another highly-touted prospect that never reached his full potential with the organization, despite a substantial signing bonus. Let’s not forget about seven-time All-Star Minnie Minoso; the recently deceased White Sox legend was one of the most beloved players in team history.
With the addition of Robert, the White Sox now have a formidable core taking shape at the minor league level. Kopech (11), Lucas Giolito (30), Reynaldo Lopez (38), and Carson Fulmer (62) all project to be solid major league pitchers (MLB prospect ranking). Couple this group with current shortstop Tim Anderson and former 3rd overall pick Carlos Rodon, and, after tearing the house down not so long ago, it looks like the new roof may be sheltering the White Sox organization quicker than anyone expected. They also have the 11th overall pick in the upcoming draft and some assets that could be moved at the deadline. The White Sox prospect list should be growing even more, soon.