GLENDALE, Ariz. — It’s early, but the White Sox like what they see of Cuban outfielder Luis Robert, their $52 million investment.
Robert, a 6-2, 210-pound 20-year-old, has looked good working on the back fields and looked comfortable in three Cactus League appearances, entering to play center field mid-game and getting one or two at-bats each time.
First-base coach Daryl Boston, who works with outfielders, is sure Robert will be a center fielder.
“Defensively, Robert is going to be special,’’ Boston said. “He can run, he has great instincts and he has great hands out there. It’s just a matter of getting the reps. I’ve been paying a lot of attention to Robert, and he’s going to be good.’’
While other outfield prospects in the system such as Eloy Jimenez, Micker Adolfo and Blake Rutherford profile in the corners, Robert is penciled in the middle.
“He’s a center fielder,’’ Boston said. “Just watching his breaks, watching his jumps, the routes he’s taking. Watching live BP, he’s right there. He’s running all over the place. It looks smooth.’’
Robert has made five plate appearances, striking out twice, hitting a one-hopper to the right of shortstop for an out (he almost beat the throw to first), drawing a walk and pulling a single between third base and short against the Cubs on Tuesday in Mesa.
There’s a ways to go, but so far, so good.
“In all the drills, he’s been outstanding,’’ Boston said.
Robert will open the season at Class A Kannapolis or Winston-Salem. He signed a minor-league deal including a $26 million signing bonus last May. The Sox also paid an additional $26 million tax for exceeding their international bonus-pool allotment.
Shields working out back
James Shields, the unannounced but likely opening-day starter, won’t make his first Cactus League start until next Thursday. He threw a three-inning simulated game Monday and will do something similar with 50-60 pitches Saturday.
“I think they want to give these young guys a chance to get in there, and it gives me a chance to hone my new delivery on the back fields,” Shields said.
After dropping his arm slot in a game in Boston on Aug. 5, Shields allowed three earned runs or fewer in seven of his last 10 starts, had a 4.33 ERA and held opponents to a .229 batting average in that span.
Jones set for first appearance
Right-hander Nate Jones, who had season-ending surgery in July to reposition the ulnar nerve in his right arm, is slated to make his first appearance in a game Thursday. Jones has thrown live batting practice four times.
“Each has been progressing, becoming more consistent,’’ Jones said. “Keep working on that changeup and see how consistent I can get with that, too.’’
Jones said he feels good and is pleased with how the ball is coming out of his hand.
“All I can do is gauge it off what the hitters are doing, and judging by their reactions, everything is par for the course,” Jones said. “Everything feels good while throwing and recovery-wise.’’
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