GLENDALE, Ariz. — It’s hard not to get swept up in the annual rite of March, the writing of a spring-training love sonnet for a beloved prospect.
And with major-leaguers locked out of camps across Arizona and Florida, the prospects are all there to love.
Take Oscar Colas, the Cuban outfielder and prized international prospect the White Sox signed for a $2.7 million bonus in January. Let Sox hitting coordinator Andy Barkett romanticize his potential.
‘‘You see a guy, and it’s like: ‘OK, show me what you want to do. Let’s try to do it right off the bat,’ ’’ Barkett said Monday. ‘‘He’s got some explosive power, some big-time, upper-deck, light-tower power. He can do it to all fields.’’
The left-handed-hitting Colas, 23, has been an attention-grabber at the Sox’ training complex for a week, and his enthusiasm and appreciation for the moment were evident on his first day.
‘‘For every baseball player, for every Cuban baseball player, the dream is to play in the majors and be part of a minor-league organization,’’ Colas said through a translator. ‘‘It was like a dream come true. Now it’s on me to perform and do what I really know I can do, being able to reach my dream.’’
Colas projects as a right fielder and the Sox’ right-field picture isn’t clear, though in-house candidates such as Andrew Vaughn, Gavin Sheets and former Gold Glove finalist Adam Engel are in the mix, as well as potential bigger-name free agents.
But Colas won’t achieve his major-league dream in 2022. His experience consists of 187 games between Cuba’s best league, Serie Nacional, in 2016-20 and the Japan Western League, the Japanese minors, in 2019. In those games, he has a combined .282/.343/.483 hitting line with 28 home runs and 38 doubles.
Colas needs a run of success for at least one season in the minors in the United States to move into the Sox’ big-league picture.
‘‘He just needs to play, and we are nowhere near making teams or anything like that,’’ Barkett said. ‘‘But wherever he goes, he’s going to be fun to work with. He’s got a bright personality and wants to get better, and that’s what we are looking for. He looks hungry. He wants to be good.’’
Barkett has noticed other Sox prospects from Cuba, such as infielder Yolbert Sanchez and outfielder Yoelqui Cespedes, ‘‘kind of go toward [Colas] a little bit in a way.’’
‘‘He’s got this leadership about him,’’ Barkett said.
He also has an ‘‘advanced’’ set of skills, according to special assistant to the general manager Marco Paddy, who serves as the Sox’ international-talent guru.
Barkett is all eyes as he watches Colas work around the cage. And Colas’ left arm is so good that he also pitched well enough to be known as the ‘‘Cuban Ohtani’’ for a while.
“First you look for personality,’’ said Barkett, the Red Sox’ assistant hitting coach in 2017-19. ‘‘And I’ve been doing this a long time. You are looking for skill and all that, but I figured there was skill. I saw the videos. I just wanted to see what kind of guy he is.’’
Colas took to the Sox’ specific hitting drills instantly and wanted to know the ins, outs and whys surrounding them.
‘‘He’s nodding his head and understanding,’’ Barkett said. ‘‘I’m able to speak in two languages, so we are communicating and he’s getting it and doing it. It’s really cool to see him embrace the process right away.’’