White Sox’ prospects know “everybody is talking about us”
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GLENDALE, Ariz. — As poor timing would have it, the White Sox’ Cactus League game Monday against the Giants wasn’t televised or streamed online.
A radio broadcast with Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson was available on WGN, but the only video to be found of Luis Robert patrolling center field and speeding from home to third on a triple, of Eloy Jimenez playing next to Robert in left field and of Yoan Moncada making a nice play at third base and finishing a triple with a headfirst slide came via phones, which distributed the images on social media.
‘‘Days like yesterday, those are what we need,’’ Sox vice president for sales and marketing Brooks Boyer said Tuesday.
Afterward, Jimenez called Robert ‘‘la pantera,’’ which is Spanish for ‘‘the panther.’’ The 6-3 Robert, whose chiseled frame and athleticism would turn heads at the NFL Scouting Combine, flashed his easy stride after hooking a two-strike slider into the left-field corner.
‘‘Ridiculous,’’ Jimenez said. ‘‘He is super fast.’’
Jimenez, 22, is the third-ranked prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline and will play in the majors this season — probably after service-time restrictions have passed in April. Robert, 21, is ranked 40th and won’t be a major-leaguer in 2019, although next season seems reasonable.
With so much attention surrounding the Sox’ runner-up finish to the Padres in the free-agent sweepstakes for infielder Manny Machado, it was good for franchise morale to see Jimenez and Robert alongside each other, showcasing a glimpse of the future.
‘‘We had two divergent marketing plans, one with [Machado] and one without,’’ Boyer said. ‘‘The great thing is, the one without is still pretty darn good.’’
Perhaps, but a sizable portion of the fan base will need time to get over losing Machado to the Padres, who won him over with $300 million guaranteed. The Sox offered $250 million, plus incentives.
‘‘Everyone knows [signing Machado] would have sped up the plan,’’ Boyer said. ‘‘But it didn’t happen. But now you look at what you have here, we feel we’re still on plan.’’
Jimenez is a large part of it and is someone Boyer and his staff can work with. He’s personable, engaging and, unlike Robert, Moncada, slugger Jose Abreu and right-hander Reynaldo Lopez, conducts interviews in English.
‘‘It’s really fun when you play in the same lineup with the guys you will play with in the future,’’ Jimenez said without an interpreter Monday. ‘‘I know the future is going to be awesome.’’
Boyer wouldn’t say what the projection for ticket sales was had the Sox signed Machado, but he said: ‘‘We are pacing ahead of where we thought we were going to be because we’re staying on plan.’’
Jimenez, who is batting fourth in manager Rick Renteria’s lineup, is a huge part of that plan and will play again Wednesday after getting the afternoon off Tuesday.
On Monday, Jimenez struck out swinging in the first inning but finished 1-for-3 with an infield single and a stolen base. Second baseman Nick Madrigal, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2018 draft, also got into the game. The day before, outfield prospect Blake Rutherford went 3-for-4 with a double.
Moncada, 23, has four hits in two games. His development is also a key to the future.
Robert didn’t start Tuesday but got into the game later. He knows there is a buzz surrounding the Sox’ young talent.
‘‘It always feels good when you are playing around young guys that have talent and everybody is talking about us,’’ Robert said. ‘‘For us, it’s always good to have good games and just to think about what we can be able to do when we reach the majors all together. It will be very special for us.’’