Luis Robert homered twice in his 2019 debut Thursday night at Class A Winston-Salem, a level that seems beneath him. Talent-wise, there’s no doubt that it is, and while a promotion to Class AA Birmingham shouldn’t be too far away, expecting to see the prized center-field prospect in a White Sox uniform this season would be a stretch.
‘‘He obviously had a pretty good night last night, so people are ready for him to be here next week,’’ general manager Rick Hahn said Friday. ‘‘Absolutely his tools are as strong as many at the big-league level already. However, from a rawness, repetition, staying healthy for an extended period of time, we haven’t really addressed those issues just yet.’’
Robert, 21, played in 50 minor-league games last season because of injuries. And he has to prove he can stay healthy this summer. In 2017, the year the Sox signed him out of Cuba for $26 million, Robert was limited to 28 games in the Arizona Summer League because of injuries and logistics issues transitioning from Cuba to the U.S.
‘‘There’s a lot of rust involved in that, not to mention the transition to a new culture,’’ Hahn said. ‘‘We’re going to be in a much better position to answer questions about a time frame on Luis as the summer unfolds and probably at the end of this season have a much firmer grasp.’’
Just win (with the core guys), baby
Hahn said if the Sox exceed expectations and win, say, 81 games, it will be meaningful only if they get there with key core players in the rebuild — such as Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito, Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson and Eloy Jimenez — leading the way.
‘‘Or is it more on the backs of veteran-type guys, Iván Nova and Welington Castillo, and older players doing their job and doing a nice job and as a result we won more than we did?’’ Hahn said. ‘‘Those two paths put us in a very different position at the end of the 2019 season. Ideally it’s contributions from everybody, young and old. We win more than we lose, and it’s a great summer, and it’s also one that puts us in a position, entering 2020, feeling very good about how this young core is coming together and what we’re capable of doing over the next couple of seasons.’’
Santana close to joining rotation
The Sox will need a fifth starter for the first time Tuesday when they host the Rays. Ervin Santana, who stayed back in Arizona, is being groomed to be activated for that one. Manager Rick Renteria wouldn’t make it official, but Santana has a locker in the Sox clubhouse.
This and that
Outfielder Jon Jay, on the injured list with right hip strain, described his injury as ‘‘a little bit of everything. Just more and more groin area. It’s all that connective area.’’ Jay saw team doctors in Chicago, and while he said he’s improving, there is no timetable for a return.
“Just trying to get out there as fast as I can,” he said.
• Dylan Covey, optioned to Class AAA Charlotte on Thursday, will work there as a starter, Renteria said.