In May 2017, the Cuban slugger Luis Robert signed a $26 million contract including the same amount in signing bonuses with the White Sox. He has been highly regarded to be a key piece of the rebuild at the time of the signing. Luis was the #1 prize in that year’s international pool and projected to a be a 5 tool player. In 210 games with Ciego de Avila his slash line was .315/.402/.467 with 20 HRs, 92 RBIs and 29 stolen bases. All the potential was there and he just needed to show he was worth the investment in the MiLB circuit.
During his first year and half in the professional leagues, Robert slashed a .310/.491/.536 with a 1.027 OPS in 28 games in Dominican summer ball and a .269/.333/.360 throughout Rookie and A+ leagues over 50 games, games that were mired by knee and finger injuries mostly due to being too aggressive on the base paths. Coming into 2019, he was poised to prove all of the doubters wrong and have a breakout year.
Robert returned to High A Winston-Salem Dash at the start of 2019 and hit the ground running. He torched A+ hurlers to the tune of a .453/.512/.920 with a 1.432 OPS, 8 HRs and 24 RBIs in 19 games. At the end of April, he was promoted to AA Birmingham, but got off to an 0-13 start with the Barons. Shortly after, he started to figure out how pitchers were challenging him. He then finished with a .314/.362/.518 and a .880 OPS, including honors of Summer League All Star MVP and an invite to the 2019 MLB Futures game in Cleveland, Ohio.
After all this success in such a short period of time, Luis was then promoted to AAA Charlotte, and in his first game on July 11th against the Gwinnett Stripers he went 3 for 5 with 2 homers and 7 RBIs. He continued to apply pressure on the White Sox front office for a September call up and finished the season with the Knights resulting in a .297/.341/.634 with 16 HRs and 39 RBIs. Not only did he mash baseballs in 2.5 years as a professional, he flashed his defensive skills throughout and showed great range in CF and only committed 8 errors in 3 seasons.
All Luis had to do was stay healthy and play well for a full minor league season and he exceeded expectations to a major degree. He ended the 2019 season as the #3 prospect in baseball, was one of 2 prospects to achieve a 30/30 season (along with Houston Astros OF prospect Kyle Tucker) and was named the MiLB player of the year.
Now, Luis isn’t a finished product and not guaranteed to have the same success from the get go in 2020. He still struck out a 22.56% clip and managed a 45.46% pull rate at the plate during his time in the minors. These tendencies and results were very similar to fellow OF Eloy Jimenez in his rookie season where he struggled to layoff breaking balls. Luis Robert projects to have the same learning curve, which could’ve been somewhat prevented with a September call up. The promotion would’ve given him an off season blueprint for what to expect in his first stint in the majors in 2020.
Robert will be a key cog in the OF for the Southsiders next season in what hopes to be a successful 2020. This an exciting time for White Sox fans and Luis has the potential to be a force in the MLB.
Featured Photo: Laura Wolff/Charlotte Knights