White Sox’ Eloy Jimenez won’t stop comparing Luis Robert to Mike Trout
Jimenez is not concerned about putting too much pressure on the center fielder, who is awaiting his major-league debut. “He knows how to handle it,” Jimenez said.
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Eloy Jimenez is doubling down on his declaration that Luis Robert will be the next Mike Trout, waving off the worry about expectations and pressure for the heralded rookie who has not played in a major-league game.
Jimenez said it at SoxFest in January and rolled some eyes, even from those fully aware of Robert’s considerable talent and potential. Trout, a center fielder like Robert, is generally regarded as the best player in the game, perhaps the best ever.
“You will see,” Jimenez said Sunday. “He’s really good. He’s been working really hard. Like I’ve said before, he’s going to be the next Mike Trout.”
Jimenez, 23, is aware of what it’s like to navigate through high expectations. He went through a similar experience as a rookie in camp last spring. But he doesn’t believe comparing Robert to Trout is more than Robert can handle.
“I’m just saying I know he’s going to do it because of the work he does every single day,” Jimenez said. “I don’t think he has pressure on him because he’s got me, he’s got Pito [Jose Abreu], he’s got [Yoan] Moncada [for support and guidance], so he’s going to be fine.
“He knows how to handle it.”
On Sunday, Robert lined a home run to left-center field that left the park with a 113 mph exit velocity. Robert also flashed his speed stealing second. He has looked good in center field this spring.
Like others watching, Jimenez thought the home run was hit too low to get out. Jimenez also homered for the first time this spring.
Robert, 22, knows what comes with being a top prospect who hit .328/.376/.624 with 32 homers, 31 doubles, 11 triples, 92 RBI and 31 stolen bases as USA Today’s Minor League Player of the Year last season. He signed a $50 million contract, opening the door to start the season on the major-league roster.
“I know that everybody is looking at me,” Robert said. “They’ve been doing that before I even signed this last contract. It’s not anything different. I just have to put my focus on the game.
“I don’t have any goals; I don’t [have] limits. I’m just trying to do the best that I can, and the numbers will be there at the end of the season.”
Robert was asked if winning the American League Rookie of the Year and MVP awards was something he’s thinking about. That’s the type of hype he is processing right now. His answers in that regard are more measured than Jimenez’s, which is probably a good thing.
“That is the dream of every baseball player who plays at this level,” Robert said. “I won’t go out with that in my mind because I don’t want that extra pressure. Then whatever happens is going to happen. I just want to play baseball and do the best I can do.”
Jimenez struggled early as a rookie last season, then hit nine homers in September and finished with 31 in 504 plate appearances over 122 games. If he stays healthy, he expects to surpass that, as well as his .267/.315/.513 hitting line. If Jimenez is right, the Sox should be fun to watch for years to come. He and Robert signed six-year deals.
He is predicting greatness for himself, as well.
“You’ll see, too,” Jimenez said. “Really good player, a superstar one day. One day I’m going to be a superstar, too.”