Last week, it was reported that the Chicago White Sox had won the Luis Robert Sweepstakes, signing him for a reported bonus between 25 and 30 million dollars, according to multiple sources.
Sources: #WhiteSox closing in on Luis Robert. Deal expected to be more than $25M.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) May 20, 2017
Robert gets somewhere in $25M-30M range @Ken_Rosenthal 1st
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) May 20, 2017
The White Sox officially announced Luis Robert's signing today for a bonus of $26 million. The White Sox also shipped minor league left-hander Alex Katz to the Orioles last week for $756,300.00 in international bonus pool slots. This will help lessen the overall taxable amount on the Robert deal. The White Sox had close to $1 million left in their international budget for the 2016-2017 signing period. The organization will pay a 100% tax on the amount that Robert's bonus exceeds their actual pool amount which should equate to something in the $23-$25 million range.
There have also been reports that the St. Louis Cardinals may have offered slightly more money, but that the personalized presentation and approach by the White Sox (including a video featuring Rick Renteria, Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada, in Spanish) may have made the difference - see this report from Dan Hayes.
His addition is a boon to the organization. Jim Callis of MLB.com had stated previously that Robert would likely enter their MLB Top 100 Prospects list in the 25-30 range immediately. MLBpipeline.com lists Robert as the #3 rated prospect in the White Sox system and the #26 overall prospect in major league baseball. The White Sox have added a consensus top 50 prospect in baseball without having to trade away any current talent. The organization has gone through a farm system overhaul but still lacks impact offensive prospects and especially potential difference makers that play in the outfield. Robert immediately becomes the best outfield prospect in the organization and will be the top non-pitching prospect in the system as soon as former teammate Yoan Moncada graduates from prospect status.
Rick Hahn said during Robert's introductory press conference that the White Sox view him as a "dynamic, high-impact, talent that profiles as an every day CF".
Ken Williams and Marco Paddy also offered some high praise for the White Sox newest addition:
Rick Hahn crediting Jerry Reinsdorf, Kenny Williams & Marco Paddy for roles in signing. Said Paddy has scouted Luis Robert for 5 years.
— Dan Hayes (@CSNHayes) May 27, 2017
Asked Marco Paddy for a Luis Robert comp: Vladimir Guerrero
— Scot Gregor (@scotgregor) May 27, 2017
KW on Robert: "it’s hard for me to recall in my mind a more sound, prettier right-handed swing."
— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) May 27, 2017
More KW on Robert: "He’s got a right-handed swing that you see more in left-handed hitters."
— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) May 27, 2017
Luis Robert confirmed during his press conference that his last name is pronounced as "Robber" so that should end some of the speculation about the proper pronunciation of his name and Rick Hahn confirmed that Robert will begin his career in the Dominican Summer League.
What are the White Sox Getting?
Luis Robert Moiran was born on August 3, 1997, and is the latest big ticket defection from Cuba. The outfielder is 19 years old and is 6'3 205 pounds. An American League Scouting Director said this about Robert, "he's the best player on the planet, and that's no exaggeration". Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com said that Robert is a center fielder with plus power and speed, though other scouts have said it's likely that Robert ends up in an outfield corner. He's often described as a five tool talent and supposedly ran the 60 Yard Dash in 6.2 seconds at a recent workout which would give him 80-grade speed on the 20-80 scale that scouts use. These are the Future Scouting Grades for Luis Robert according to mlbpipeline.com: Hit 55/ Power 60/ Run 70/ Arm 50/ Field 55.
When Luis Robert was 14 years old he starred in Cuba's 16-and-under league and he played in the 18-and-under league as a 15-year old. At 16, Robert hit .383 with 4 homers in the COPABE 18U Pan American Championship back in 2014. In 2015 he was named to the All Tournament Team in the 18U division during the Japanese World Cup.
As a professional, Robert played for Tigres de Ciego Avila in the Cuban Nacional Series. He hit .393 with 12 home runs and 11 stolen bases last year, as part of a league championship team. The Cuban National Series is the premier domestic amateur baseball competition in Cuba. The league plays a 90 game season from November-February and an 8 team tournament decides the eventual champion.
The video below is a batting practice session from Baseball America. The video shows that Robert is athletically built with a good base and a compact right-handed swing.
This next video below shows Robert during game action. While his body type is different, his swing looks similar to fellow Cuban and Mets star Yoenis Cespedes. Robert appears to struggle with some off-speed stuff in this small sample of plate appearances.
Here some of Robert's in-game power and speed are shown from a 2016 game for Ciego de Avila:
Finally, here is another batting practice session along with some drills of Luis Robert throwing the ball in from the outfield.
What does it mean for the White Sox?
Signing Luis Robert essentially takes the White Sox out of the running for the top international amateurs over the next two seasons. The addition of Robert puts the White Sox over their allotted budget for the 2016-2017 signing period as was detailed here by our Brian Bilek. The White Sox will be in the penalty phase during the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 international signing periods. Under the new CBA, Marco Paddy and his staff will be able to spend $4.75 million per year on international amateurs but they can't sign any player for more than $300,000 over the next two signing periods. The White Sox could also choose to trade away some of their international money to teams that could better utilize it, as another method of acquiring prospects. Signing Robert doesn't take the White Sox out of the international market completely but it does significantly alter what they can do in the near future. They apparently feel that adding the potential of the 19 year-old Robert is worth the risk involved.
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