White Sox prospect Luis Robert stops off at All-Star Futures Game on way to Class AAA
With pitcher Dylan Cease having been called up from Charlotte last week, Robert is the next mega-prospect Sox fans are waiting for.
CLEVELAND — Luis Robert was late.
One of the most prominent names on the American League’s All-Star Futures roster, Robert — MLB Pipeline’s fifth-ranked player in all of baseball — quietly entered the home clubhouse at Progressive Field on Sunday, about 20 minutes after media interviews with his teammates got into full swing.
He found his locker, which just so happened to be tucked behind a wide drywall column. From certain angles, the Cuban outfielder, a foundational piece of the White Sox’ bright future, wasn’t even visible.
Maybe Robert planned it that way. He is a reticent fellow by nature, speaks limited English and was without a dedicated translator. Eventually, though, the Indians’ translator was summoned to assist.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be here,” said Robert, who went 0-for-2 in the game which ended in a 2-2 tie. “There are a lot of hyped players here, and it’s great to be here with them.”
Robert can hit like thunder and run like the wind, but he can’t hide. The 6-3, 185-pound 21-year-old is too tantalizing a prospect — too hyped himself — to disappear. With pitcher Dylan Cease having been called up from Class AAA Charlotte to the Sox last week, Robert is the next mega-prospect Sox fans are waiting for.
It’s hard to be patient at a time like this, but Robert is on the move. The plan was for him to depart Class AA Birmingham for Charlotte — by way of the Futures Game — on Monday.
“Yeah, I’m really excited,” he said. “I’ve continued to move up various levels, and now I have just one more level to go to reach the goal I’ve been looking for since I came to the United States [in 2016].”
The Sox and Cubs split two games over the weekend at Guaranteed Rate Field, but the Sox’ Futures Game duo — not only Robert, but also Class AA second baseman Nick Madrigal — overshadowed the Cubs’, Class AAA starting pitcher Adbert Alzolay and Class A catcher Miguel Amaya, at least in terms of name recognition and stature.
Madrigal, who has his own high hopes of making it to the South Side next season, described playing with Robert in Birmingham as an “awesome experience that you knew wasn’t going to last long at all.”
Robert had his parents, his brother and an uncle in the stands cheering for him Sunday, not that a player hitting .349 with 16 homers and a 1.019 OPS in the minor leagues this season requires a lot of extra support. Just as in the case of the Southern League All-Star Game they witnessed in June — Robert, starring for Birmingham at the time, was that game’s MVP — the Futures event likely is a one-and-done scenario for a player on a fast track to the big leagues.
Two nights before the greatest show in baseball, the question loomed as Roberts stood on the field: Will his next all-star appearance come as a member of the Sox?
“I hope to play in as many of those games as possible,” he said. “That would be a dream come true.”
Sox general manager Rick Hahn won’t commit to a timeline when it comes to Robert, who missed most of the 2018 season due to injury.
“The two primary goals for him were really, one, get him through the season healthy, and two — ideally, at age 21 — [he’d] acclimate himself well in the Southern League and perform well at that level,” Hahn said. “So let’s take the next logical step in his development, see how [Class AAA] goes and well go from there.”
But Hahn knows better than most that with Robert — even when he hides behind a drywall column — seeing is believing.
“Once he was out there playing, the talent level was going to rise to the top,” he said. “It was going to be evident to everybody what this kid was capable of doing.”