GLENDALE, Ariz. — Any small step outfield prospect Luis Robert takes as a hitter is a big one for the White Sox’ rebuild.
Robert’s size, speed, power and talent are apparent to anyone who sees him play, but watching him figure things out as he goes through the development process is a delight for Sox coaches.
Robert is playing in minor-league camp after spending the first few weeks with the Sox’ big-leaguers. In Cactus League games, the 21-year-old center fielder is 5-for-13 (.385) with a home run, two triples, a double and eight RBI.
‘‘The best thing for me is when he lays off off-speed [pitches] early in the count,’’ Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson said. ‘‘It shows he’s starting to mature and is getting what he’s looking for to hit instead of just being a hacker and free swinger. After a while, you realize, ‘That ain’t doing me any good.’ ’’
In a recent at-bat, Robert — who is the 40th-ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline — laid off two tough sliders before striking out on a good sinker. Steverson said that was progress.
‘‘Two tough sliders off the get-go, he might have swung at them early in camp,’’ Steverson said. ‘‘That’s the maturity just in a five-week period here.’’
Because of injuries, Robert played in only 32 games at advanced Class A Winston-Salem in 2018, batting .244/.317/.309 with no homers. He could benefit from more time there before advancing to Class AA Birmingham.
‘‘When he gets the ball in the zone, he can put the barrel on it,’’ Steverson said. ‘‘This guy has some juice, and he can fly. His talent level is off the charts.’’
Jay still out
Outfielder Jon Jay, who hasn’t played since last Wednesday because of soreness in the area around his right hip, said he’s day-to-day with ‘‘general spring-training soreness.’’
‘‘I overworked it a little bit, and that was on me,’’ Jay said. ‘‘Feeling better every day.’’
A career .285 hitter, Jay is pegged to be manager Rick Renteria’s leadoff man and would seem likely to be ready for the regular-season opener March 28 in Kansas City. He took at-bats in a minor-league game Monday and hit in the cages Tuesday.
‘‘We will put him through the whole wringer [Wednesday],’’ Renteria said. ‘‘If he comes out of that OK, we should be ready to go by the following day.’’
Jay is 11-for-31 with two homers and eight RBI this spring.
Palka not worried
Outfielder Daniel Palka was 2-for-19 going into the Sox’ late game Tuesday against the Reds, but he won’t use missing almost two weeks because of a sore hamstring as an excuse.
‘‘Everything feels really good,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s been 100 percent for about a week and a half. I feel like spring training could be about a week and we’d all be fine, so I’m not too worried about [missing time].’’
Palka led the Sox with 27 homers as a rookie last season.
Jones works on side
While most relievers are beginning to pitch on back-to-back days, Nate Jones (15.43 ERA) isn’t scheduled to pitch until Friday. Jones and Renteria said Jones’ struggles this spring have been related to command, not health.