White Sox

Rick Renteria's scouting report on Luis Robert is sure to get White Sox fans excited

Rick Renteria's scouting report on Luis Robert is sure to get White Sox fans excited

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — So it sounds like this Luis Robert guy is pretty, pretty, pretty good.

The White Sox added another huge piece to their rebuilding effort last summer by signing the Cuban outfielder and mentally penciling him into the starting center fielder’s spot years down the road. While the descriptions of the kid — and the big money he received as an international free agent — were enough to make White Sox fans excited, actual knowledge on him for the non-scouts among us was scarce given that he played in a foreign country.

But the White Sox have had Robert in the system for months now, and manager Rick Renteria has seen him in person playing in the Dominican League. And listening to Renteria describe his future outfielder, it sounds like the South Side is in for a special player.

“I saw Robert,” Renteria said during his Tuesday afternoon press media session at the Winter Meetings at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort, “he’s a pretty impressive specimen. Listen, this kid can fly. I saw him run down to first I think it was like 3.56 after a full swing on a ground ball. He ran down a ball in center, right-center field effortlessly. He hit a ball against the wind and a gust into center, left-center field that I thought had no chance and it ended up going over the trees.”

That right there is enough to make rebuild-loving White Sox fans’ ears perk up.

Like much of the White Sox recently acquired minor league talent, there’s still plenty of development still to come for Robert. The reason the White Sox have thus far been so quiet during the Winter Meetings is because they seem to have their sights on 2018 (or at least the beginning of it) as a developmental season. General manager Rick Hahn said this week that patience needs to be exercised, not just by the fan base but by the organization itself.

But Robert is one of the younger names on the team’s list of highly touted prospects. He was just 19 years old when the White Sox signed him in May. He’s 20 now. But he’s yet to play minor league baseball in the U.S., and while he’s considered a special talent, he likely won’t arrive in the big leagues alongside the other future stars of the rebuild like Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez.

Of course, that’s been the plan all along. But just because Robert is still a couple years away, that won’t stop White Sox fans from salivating over scouting reports like the one Renteria brought back from the Dominican Republic.

“I was there for four games, just watching, that they played in their instruction league. Watching his work,” Renteria said. “He’s obviously a little bit more mature. He’s, from what I can gather, he’s quiet, very attentive to everything that you’re conversing about. Has a way of being and being a part of the rest of the group that were there.

“I think that for him right now it’s just a matter of getting himself to the States, starting to play against other competition, start to get a feel for what’s going on here, the level of play that he’s going to be hopefully participating in this coming summer, and see where he can chip away at what he needs to improve upon. He’s still a young, very young player. I’m sure there are a lot of aspects of his game that he’s going to have to improve upon.

“So once he gets here we’ll see and decipher, and I’m sure we’ll have a plan as to how we want to check off certain boxes for him and what he needs to do to continue to move forward.”

Hahn said that he looks forward to seeing Robert in big league camp, and that will give the White Sox a chance to see what they have coming. But they know already what they have, and they’re excited about Robert’s present and future with the organization.

“We have been thrilled with him,” Hahn said. “If you follow him on Instagram, he has a great personality and gets along well with all his teammates. He works extremely hard. You would not know from walking around our Dominican complex the size of the bonus he got in terms of how he carries himself and how he treats others. He has fit in great and look forward to seeing him come big league camp.”

White Sox reportedly one of teams 'expressing interest' in Christian Yelich, but does a trade for Marlins star make sense?

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USA TODAY

White Sox reportedly one of teams 'expressing interest' in Christian Yelich, but does a trade for Marlins star make sense?

A big offseason splash for the rebuilding White Sox?

After being rumored to potentially trade for Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado last month during the Winter Meetings, the next name on many fans' offseason wish list is Miami Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich.

Yelich is an intriguing candidate for the obvious reason that he's really good, but he also has an uncommon amount of team control remaining on his contract, as many as five years, to be exact. It all adds up to him being a far better fit for a rebuilding team like the White Sox than the aforementioned Machado, who is slated to hit free agency after the upcoming 2018 season.

According to a Friday report from Jon Heyman, the White Sox are one of many teams "expressing interest" in Yelich, who figures to be on the trading block soon given the Marlins' activity this offseason. The Fish, now headed by Derek Jeter, have already traded away several All-Star players, with Giancarlo Stanton going to the New York Yankees, Marcell Ozuna going to the St. Louis Cardinals and Dee Gordon going to the Seattle Mariners. Yelich, who would figure to fetch a hefty return package, is speculated to be the next to go, along with catcher J.T. Realmulto. Yelich's agent told ESPN's Jerry Crasnick a couple days ago that Yelich's relationship with the Marlins is "irretrievably broken."

Joining the White Sox on Heyman's reported list are the Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres.

That's obviously a lot of competition, but the White Sox and their stacked farm system would figure to line up well with any team looking to move a star major leaguer for a big package of prospects. With all the minor league talent general manager Rick Hahn has acquired over the past year-plus, there are more highly touted players than there are spots in the White Sox lineup and rotation of the future, meaning some of those players could eventually turn into trade candidates.

But the key word there is "eventually," and it might speak to why a Yelich trade doesn't quite make sense for the White Sox right this moment.

The White Sox aren't expected to contend for a championship in 2018, and that could very well be the case in 2019, as well. This year and perhaps the next will be dedicated to waiting for all these young players to develop, and when that process concludes, Hahn and his front office will have a far better idea of what they have and what holes they need to fill — be that through a big free-agent signing or a trade. But the team hasn't reached that point yet.

Of course, there's plenty to love about Yelich. The 26-year-old already has five big league seasons under his belt, with a collective .290/.369/.432 slash line and a combined 146 doubles in those years. Plus, the power numbers have spiked in the last two seasons, with 21 homers and 98 RBIs in 2016 and 18 homers and 81 RBIs last season. He's also a Gold Glove winner in the outfield and has that alluring contract that thanks to an option could keep him away from free agency until after the 2022 season, definitely past when the White Sox hope to be perennial contenders.

A hypothetical trade for Yelich makes much more sense than one for Machado, that's for sure. But the White Sox still have spent a lot of time and effort carefully laying rebuilding plans, and those plans would need to be drastically altered, one would assume, in order to land a Fish like Yelich. It makes far more sense for the White Sox to exercise the patience that Hahn preached at the Winter Meetings and wait to see exactly what they have — and where — with their mountain of prospects.

Meet the Prospects: Evan Skoug

Meet the Prospects: Evan Skoug

The White Sox rebuild is in full swing. While it might still be a year or two before the big league team is expected to start competing for championships, the minor leagues are stocked with highly touted talent fans will be eagerly following in 2018. With that in mind, it's time to Meet the Prospects and get to know the future of the South Side.

Evan Skoug

Skoug, the 22-year-old catcher, was a seventh-round pick of the White Sox in last summer's draft.

A Libertyville native, Skoug played his college ball at TCU, where he and the Horned Frogs made three consecutive College World Series appearances in the last three years. During his final season at TCU, Skoug slashed .272/.378/.544 with a whopping 20 homers and 71 RBIs.

After joining the White Sox organization, Skoug played 21 games with Class A Kannpolis, only picking up 10 hits — but two homers and two triples — in his 76 plate appearances.

As of their most recent rankings, MLB Pipeline had Skoug rated as the No. 24 prospect in the White Sox organization.

Get to know Skoug in the video above.