White Sox center-field prospect Luis Robert has stayed healthy and handled Class A and Class AA pitching without issue this season. Now he’s off to Class AAA Charlotte, but not before a stop Sunday in Cleveland to play in the All-Star Futures Game.
In announcing Robert’s promotion, general manager Rick Hahn answered the question about when the next promotion was coming before it could be asked.
‘‘In terms of what that means for his timeline to Chicago, it’s premature to speculate along those lines,’’ Hahn said. ‘‘The two goals for him were to get him through the season healthy and, at age 21, to acclimate himself to the Double-A Southern League and perform well at that level. He’s ready for that next challenge.’’
In 56 games (244 plate appearances) at Birmingham, Robert is batting .314/.362/.518 with 16 doubles, three triples, eight home runs, 29 RBI and 21 stolen bases.
Before being promoted to Birmingham, Robert crushed pitching at Class A Winston-Salem to the tune of .453/.512/.920 with eight homers and 24 RBI in 19 games (84 plate appearances).
While Class AA typically is stacked with top prospects and power arms, Class AAA might give Robert a better feel for facing more experienced pitchers and more diversified pitch mixes.
‘‘He’s going to be challenged on the edges and around the [strike] zone at Triple-A, and it’s going to require a little more fine-tuning to his offensive approach,’’ Hahn said. ‘‘But he’s a dangerous hitter both in and outside the zone, so we don’t expect him to change anything radically. But more advanced pitchers challenging him in a different way will be good for him.’’
Robert, who was limited to 50 games between the Arizona League and two levels of Class A because of injuries in 2018, already has played 75 games this season and has climbed to No. 5 in MLB Pipeline’s prospect rankings.
‘‘Once he was out there playing, the tools and talent would arise and it would be evident to everybody what this kid is capable of doing,’’ Hahn said. ‘‘That’s been the most positive thing from my standpoint this year — that he’s playing regularly.’’
Hahn said struggling right-hander Reynaldo Lopez is staying in the rotation despite a 6.34 ERA that ranks last in the majors among qualified pitchers.
Lopez, who was the Sox’ best starter with a 3.91 ERA in 2018, has been inconsistent, even within starts. But a move to the bullpen or a demotion to Charlotte isn’t in the cards.
‘‘From a long-term standpoint, I view it as a positive that he’s capable of [showing flashes of being good],’’ Hahn said. ‘‘I view it as a positive that he’s healthy and that he knows what he’s done so far isn’t acceptable. And he wants to be better.’’
Deal or no deal?
Hahn said being ‘‘closer to where we’re in a position to make some noise and maybe win something next year’’ will make it difficult to trade closer Alex Colome, who is under contract control for one more season. But, as always, it would depend on the return.
‘‘With any of these things, it’s going to be about market value and balancing what we can get in return versus how we project the role going forward,’’ Hahn said.