Luis Robert Highlights Early Winston-Salem Standouts

I remember getting up close to Luis Robert in person at this year’s SoxFest. Listed at 6-3, 185lbs, I felt as if I was staring at an NFL safety.

Luis Robert at SoxFest 2019 (Clinton Cole/FutureSox)

Luis Robert at SoxFest 2019 (Clinton Cole/FutureSox)

I caught three at-bats of his at the backfields of Minor League Spring training. Mouth agape, I watched Robert barrel up a liner to left and glide easily into second base for a double.

The 21-year-old is ranked 38th in MLB pipeline’s Top-100 Prospect list. Behind right-handed pitchers Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech, as well as No. 1 ranked Eloy Jimenez, Robert is the fourth-best prospect in the White Sox system, according to our Preseason Top-30 Prospect list.

Robert had an abbreviated first full season with the organization in 2018 due to multiple injuries to the same left thumb. He even managed to sprain the thumb again in Spring Training this year, but the mishap was only minor.

Debuting as a 20-year-old in Kannapolis, Robert earned a promotion to Advanced-A Winston-Salem after a productive 13 games at Low-A. Ultimately over the course of 50 Minor League contests, Robert logged 11 doubles, 17 RBI and stole 15-of-19 bags.

Considering the lifestyle adjustments in his first full season with the White Sox, while also losing more than half the year due to injury, the results for Robert were encouraging. The design going into 2019 was for Robert to play his way out of Advanced-A and so far he’s proven to be the best player on the field in each of his 10 appearances.

The centerfielder and leadoff man from La Habana, Cuba is putting on full display why the White Sox were willing to provide a deal that included a $26 million signing bonus to a 19-year-old. I mean, just look at him move.

Here he is scoring standing up from first base before Nick Madrigal‘s base hit returns to the infield:

The right-handed slugger homered twice and drove in five on Opening Day. Robert then demonstrated his flair for the dramatic just three days later.

With two men on trailing 9-7, Robert blasted a three-run shot to give the Dash a short-lived 10-9 lead. Winston-Salem lost that contest in the bottom of the 9th, but this home run almost made up for it.

He went 0-for-5 on April 9th, and Dash skipper Justin Jirschele gave Robert a day off before he returned to form. Back in the lineup on April 11th, Robert went on to go 10-for-18 (.556) with two triples, a home run and four RBI over the next four games.

His Dash slash line on the year looks like this: (21-for-44) .477/.521/.977, five home runs, three doubles, two triples, 14 runs scored and 16 RBI. He is also 3-for-4 in stolen base opportunities. In 55 plate appearances, Robert has struck out nine times compared to two walks. The effort resulted in a Carolina League Player of the Week award.

The man can mash:

The White Sox decided Winston-Salem was the safe play for Robert, who dealt with a considerable number of variables last year. It’s only a matter of time before he is promoted to Double-A. If the production continues, a move could happen by the end of this week.

Should the White Sox decide on a move, the Dash would employ four outfielders that include Craig Dedelow, Jameson Fisher, Tyler Frost and Jordan George.

Robert currently owns the spotlight for the White Sox Advanced-A affiliate, but there are several other names to keep an eye on as the season gets its legs.

First let’s begin with Codi Heuer, who earned a spot in High-A this season and avoided Kannapolis entirely.

A 2018 6th round pick out of Wichita State, the 22-year-old Heuer is working primarily out of the Dash bullpen this season and has allowed just one hit across six scoreless innings. His seven strikeouts are second among relievers behind Jose Nin, who has 10 over 7.1 frames.

Right-hander Alec Hansen has struck out seven while walking two over four scoreless appearances. Sitting in the mid-to-upper 90’s with his fastball, Hansen’s value would skyrocket if he can retire hitters early and avoid deep counts.

The plan is to begin Hansen in the pen and gradually work his way back to multi-inning appearances once he establishes a consistency in his mechanics. His command of the strike zone and total innings will be a theme all season.

2018 fourth overall pick Nick Madrigal is doing what he does well to start the year, which is hit. He dealt with a cold that kept him out of the lineup for a few games but still boasts a .351 batting average (13-for-37). The jury is still out on whether Madrigal can develop gap-to-gap power, but early on his speed has been on full display.

Both Robert and Madrigal garner most of the attention at this level currently, as they both have an opportunity to make a case for next year’s Opening Day roster. Robert’s path toward a AA promotion is near its end, while Madrigal still has some trekking to do.

Madrigal is an especially interesting case because there is a straight line beginning at MLB’s 45th-ranked prospect and the White Sox inherent obligation to fill the second base position. If Madrigal meets or exceeds expectations this year, he may force Rick Hahn’s hand come next spring.

The point is for both Robert and Madrigal to compete in a full 140-game season in 2019 and provide tangible reason for optimism as a spot on the 40-man becomes much more valuable in 2020 and beyond. Talent surplus is a good thing! Just please stay on the field.

UPDATE: Robert Named Carolina League Player of the Week


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    It's going to be a rush watching Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal atop the White Sox lineup in the not too distant future, perhaps even by next season. Adding in Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez and Tim Anderson, the White Sox have the makings of one fine nucleus. Hopefully a few others in their system can develop into potential future stars as well.

  • In reply to Aaron Sapoznik:

    Cease! Kopech! Rodon! Lopez! Giolito!

    the 2020 rotation is going to be a lot of fun too, along with the bats.

  • I've watched a lot of Robert's hits this year, and I seriously think he should be thinking inside-the-park homerun more often than he currently is. I've seen several triples where he barely even turned on his big speed until he was rounding second but still was standing up at third way before the ball reached the infield.

    Especially in B-ham where some of his big shots will bounce off the walls, I think our pantherboi could probably just run the bases faster than those MiLB left fielders can get the ball in -- assuming he turns on the speed the second he leaves the batter's box.

    Any chance you or someone else in the FutureSox stable can ask him about this after a game sometime? If you look at the video there are at least two triples already this year he obviously could have turned into HRs

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