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.”

Daily White Sox prospects update: Eight more strikeouts for Michael Kopech

Daily White Sox prospects update: Eight more strikeouts for Michael Kopech

Here's your daily update on what the White Sox highly touted prospects are doing in the minor leagues.

Triple-A Charlotte

Michael Kopech made another strong start, striking out eight batters and allowing just one run and one hit in six innings of work. He's up to 29 strikeouts in four starts this season with his ERA down to 2.14 as fans and observers alike wonder when he'll reach the big leagues. Charlie Tilson had two hits, a walk and a stolen base in a 2-1 loss.

Class A Winston-Salem

Micker Adolfo homered in each game of a doubleheader and now has five home runs on the season. Dylan Cease started one game, a 4-3 loss, and allowed no earned runs but last just 3.2 innings as he both walked and struck out six. Gavin Sheets went 3-for-3 with a double in that game. In the other, a 9-3 win, Adolfo had a double to go along with his homer and finished with five RBIs. Luis Alexander Basabe, Alex Call and Joel Booker combined for five doubles in that game.

Double-A Birmingham

Zack Collins had two hits, including a home run, with a walk, two RBIs and a run scored. Ian Clarkin gave up six runs in just four innings as his ERA leaped up to 4.57. Eloy Jimenez was hitless but had a walk and an RBI in a 9-8 loss.

Class A Kannapolis

Luis Gonzalez had a hit and Evan Skoug had a walk in a 3-0 loss.

Robinson Cano sees superstar potential in Yoan Moncada

Robinson Cano sees superstar potential in Yoan Moncada

The greats know greatness.

Looking across the field this week at Yoan Moncada, 8-time All-Star Robinson Cano not only saw a lot of himself in the White Sox second baseman, he believes he was witnessing a future baseball star. 

“I can see a guy who’s going to be a superstar in this game,” Cano said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago on the White Sox Talk Podcast. “He can field, he can throw, he can hit. In the first game against us, he was a hit away from the cycle. He can hit right now. Imagine when he’s in the league two or three years and is facing the same guys for the last couple years. Then you have a different approach. The guy that I see, you just got to give it time and keep working hard because I think he’ll be a superstar.”

Cano had heard the comparisons between himself and Moncada, but until this week, he had never seen his protege play baseball in person.

The two of them hadn’t even met until Monday when they encountered each other at of all places—second base. Moncada had just doubled for his second hit of the night. That gave Cano a close look at the swing that happens to be identical to his.

“I was watching that the other day on second base and I was like, ‘Wow, it’s the same swing,’” Cano said.

Growing up in Cuba, Moncada idolized Cano. He didn’t just play the same position and copy his swing, he wore Cano’s jersey number and even named his son after him.

“It’s something you can’t describe because as a player it’s the first time that’s happened where you see a player name their kid after you,” Cano said.

Despite their similarities, Cano admits there are some differences that favor the young Moncada.

Who hits the ball harder?

“I would say him. He’s stronger.”

And speed?

“He’s got something I never have. He can run. I was slow, always.”

Moncada’s biggest problem right now is strikeouts. He has 38 this season, second most in baseball. Cano, who has only 14, provided some advice for Moncada.

“The only thing I can give him for that is making the game simple and try not to swing so hard,” Cano explained. "The thing is when we swing too hard and try to hit a homer, we chase pitches. When you try to stay simple, try to make contact and use the whole field that’s when you can minimize the strikeout.”

Cano was 22 in his rookie season. Moncada is currently 23. A player’s first few seasons in the majors is mainly about learning and maturing, which Moncada is essentially doing every time he comes to the plate. Often times his talent just takes over like it did on Wednesday when he homered in the first pitch he saw against Felix Hernandez. After that, he struck out three times.

Moncada’s offensive game has so far been quite boom or bust. Over time that should level out. When it does, look out. 

In the meantime, more wisdom from Cano:

“Sometimes as a kid, you want to go out and all you think is about putting out numbers compared to playing the game that you know how to play. You need to let the numbers come to themselves, not try to get a hit every time, or I’ve got to hit a homer or want to swing hard. Just go out and try to win a game.”

Cano didn’t learn this on his own. It helped having former Yankees teammates like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield show him not just how to play, but how to win.

“When you have someone who can help you in this game, that’s the best thing to happen to a player,” Cano said. “When someone can be there for you and say, “In this situation I think you’re wrong.’ Someone who can tell you something you don’t want to hear.”

For Moncada, one of those players right now is Jose Abreu.

“Having a guy like (Abreu) who can help is good especially since they’re from the same country.”

At one point during Wednesday’s game, Moncada and Cano crossed paths between innings. They smiled at each other before going their separate ways. Cano to second base where the 35 year-old is in the twilight of his career. Moncada to the White Sox dugout where most of his career awaits.

“He’s going to be great in this game,” Cano said about Moncada. “He just needs to stay healthy and keep working hard. People don’t realize that this game is more about time.”

That was Cano's way of saying: be patient White Sox fans. A "superstar" is here. His time will come.