Last December, Rick Hahn and the White Sox made a couple big trades that proved they are in the rebuilding process and taking steps toward future success. The White Sox have acquired a pool of top prospects which include Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Dane Dunning, Luis Alexander Basabe, Reynaldo Lopez and now, 19-year-old Cuban prospect Luis Robert.
Saturday, Robert became eligible to be signed as a free agent after Major League Baseball informed teams last month that he would not be subject to the June first-year player draft. During the early afternoon, news broke that the White Sox ousted the St. Louis Cardinals and inked a deal worth around $25 million dollars with Robert.
White Sox had to make some corresponding move which included minor leaguer Alex Katz to help make the deal go smoother.
Before the deal was completed and known, White Sox fans spent month speculating he would be signed. It seemed a done-deal when Robert changed his Instagram profile picture to him wearing a White Sox hat.
Luis Robert has been playing professionally since he was 16.
“At 6-foot-3, Robert has a strong but extremely lean, athletic frame, standing out for his physicality, athleticism, tools and track record of performance, both against his peers and older competition. He’s a righthanded hitter with a good set up, premium bat speed and a fairly sound, compact swing. When Robert connects, he drives the ball with high exit velocity and plus raw power.” -Ben Bradler wrote in a piece for Baseball America.
Robert saw success at the last Cuban National Series even at his young age. He hit .401/.536/.687 with 12 doubles, 2 triples, 12 home runs, 51 runs and 40 runs batted in just fifty-three games. To put that in perspective, Scott Krinch compared his stats to other top Cuban national players.
Luis Robert will spend some time working in the minors like most of the recent prospect acquisitions. The White Sox don’t have all the piece just yet to make a run toward a title so until then Robert and others will be elsewhere. Robert will likely be in their farm system for the next two seasons. Robert can be a late 2018 call-up or even a 2019 and 2020 starter. Those are the years Rick Hahn and the White Sox have their eyes on as they hope to be serious title contenders.
Cuban players aren’t a new a thing for the White Sox organization. They have had a long history in getting them to the league. The first to Cuban-born White Sox was Minnie Minoso, he went on to become one of the best in franchise history. During the 2005 Championship run, Jose Contreras and Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez played a key role in bringing a title to Chicago for the first time in 88 years. In 2008, the Cuban Missile a.k.a. Alexei Ramirez had an explosive arrival in Chicago. From then on Chicago has seen a few come and go. Most recently, the 2014 Rookie of the Year, Jose Abreu has bashed his way to becoming the star of the franchise.
Abreu was a big part in convincing Robert. The White Sox shared a video which featured Jose. In the video, he expressed how great of an organization the White Sox are and they opportunities the give Cuban-born players. Abreu spoke about the initial nerves you get going from Cuba to America but ultimately that only motivates you to be the best player you can be.
“You have an idea, and you know it’s the best in the world, but you don’t know how high the level is. But you have the dream and you have the desire to do your best,” said Abreu.
The Luis Robert is going to play a key role to bring the White Sox back to the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
“He’s an extremely talented young man who is going to have an impact on whatever organization he winds up joining,” Hahn said.
Luckily for Hahn, he walked away with a yet another piece of his master plan.