White Sox

Luis Robert latest Cuban player to join White Sox

Luis Robert latest Cuban player to join White Sox

SEATTLE --- The Cuban connection remains strong for the White Sox.

With Saturday’s reported signing of 19-year-old outfielder Luis Robert, the White Sox have once again gone to the island to find a potential major leaguer. Jose Abreu is the team’s only current

Cuban, but the club’s past is littered with players, including Minnie Minoso, Alexei Ramirez, Jose Contreras and ‘El Duque’ Orlando Hernandez.

When he joined them in 2014 and went on to win the American League rookie of the year, Abreu became the 17th Cuban player in White Sox history. Adrian Nieto was the 18th after he spent the 2014 season on the roster as a Rule 5 draft pick.

Robert becomes the team’s second high-profile Cuban prospect behind Yoan Moncada, who was acquired in a trade in December. Both Abreu and Moncada pitched Robert as part of a video presentation the White Sox made, pleading with him to join them in Chicago. Abreu said he has the highest respect for the White Sox and how they have treated Cuban players.

[MORE: Video pitch helps White Sox sign potential cornerstone Luis Robert to loaded farm system]

As for his pitch, Abreu said: “I just told him that the White Sox organization was a great organization, that this is an organization that will take care of the Cuban players and has a high respect for us, and that it would be very special to have him playing with us.”

Here’s a look at other prominent Cubans who have played for the White Sox.

-- Minnie Minoso (1951-57, 1960-61, 1964, 1976, 1980)

The island’s first major league star was a seven-time All-Star. The ‘Cuban Comet’ finished with 1,963 hits and an .848 OPS. He led the AL in Wins Above Replacement in 1954 with 8.3 and finished in the top-10 in WAR six times.

-- Alexei Ramirez (2008-15)

An eight-year starter and the full-time shortstop after 2009, Ramirez averaged 153-plus games a season. He won the Silver Slugger Award in 2010 and 2014, was an All-Star in 2014 and produced 19 f-WAR in his White Sox career.

-- Jose Contreras (2004-09)

A 15-game winner for the World Series winners in 2005, the right-hander also was an All-Star a season later when he went 13-9 with a 4.27 ERA. Contreras helped the Sox to its last two postseason appearances in six seasons.

-- Jose Canseco (2001)

More prominent for what he did before and after his lone season with the White Sox, Canseco hit 16 homers and drove in 49 runs in 76 games in what was the final year of his career.

-- Dayan Viciedo (2010-13)

The youngster slipped in his second full season in 2013 as he hit 11 fewer homers than he did in 2012. But in 2012 Viciedo had 25 homers and drove in 78 runs, which gives the White Sox hope he can develop into a superstar.

-- Orlando Hernandez (2005)

The overall numbers in his only season with the White Sox weren’t eye-popping, but he added another winning presence to the mix. He also pitched three shutout innings in the ALDS clincher against the Red Sox.

-- Sandy Consuegra (1953-56)

The right-hander was a jack-of-all trades for the ’54 Sox, who won 94 games and finished third in the league. An All-Star, he went 16-3 with a 2.69 ERA, two shutouts and three saves in 39 games (17 starts).

-- Luis Aloma (1950-53)

The reliever appeared in 116 games over four seasons and finished with an 18-3 record and a 3.44 ERA.

-- Rudy Arias (1959)

Though he didn’t pitch in the World Series for the Go-Go White Sox, Arias did go 2-0 with a 4.09 ERA in 34 relief appearances in the regular season.

-- Mike Fornieles (1953-56)

Later an All-Star with the Red Sox, he went 8-7 with a 3.59 ERA in 153 innings in his first season on the South Side. Fornieles appeared in 86 games for the Sox and had a 3.82 ERA over 297 innings.

-- Adrian Nieto (2014)

A Rule 5 selection in December 2013, Nieto spent the entire 2014 season with the White Sox. He caught 48 games and hit two home runs. Nieto also called Abreu “The Cuban Babe Ruth” after the first baseman burst onto the scene that April.

Other Cuban players to play for the White Sox include: Jose Acosta (1922), Guillermo “Willy” Maranda (1952), Aurelio Monteagudo (1967), Hector Rodriguez (1952), Nelson Santovenia (1992) and Leo Sutherland (1980-81).

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Michael Kopech prepares for The Show

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Michael Kopech prepares for The Show

Pete McMurray, David Haugh and Ben Finfer join David Kaplan on the panel and discuss the long-awaited arrival of Michael Kopech for the White Sox, Yu Darvish's short rehab start and Mitch Trubisky's second preseason game.

Plus, they discuss new NFL rules and when Eloy Jimenez could get his call up.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Chris Getz on Michael Kopech: 'He’s got no interest in being second best'

Chris Getz on Michael Kopech: 'He’s got no interest in being second best'

With his MLB debut a day away, the Michael Kopech hype train is rolling full steam ahead.

Chris Getz, the White Sox farm director, did nothing to really slow that train down. Getz was interviewed during the NBC Sports Chicago broadcast and it was all about the pitching prospect and his upcoming debut.

“His stuff is unique,” Getz said. “It’s front-line repertoire, there’s no question. But he’s got such a competitive mindset. He’s got no interest in being second best. He’s a great teammate. He’s a great person. He’s everything you ask for in a guy to be on a team to compete for championships.”

Getz said Kopech has become more confident with his curveball in his last six or seven starts. The “six or seven starts” timeframe is something both general manager Rick Hahn and Charlotte Knights pitching coach Steve McCatty said verbatim in other interviews on Monday. Apparently they saw what they wanted to in terms of Kopech’s development.

Kopech had a 1.84 ERA with 59 strikeouts and four walks in 44 innings in his last seven starts with the Knights. He also didn’t walk any batters in his last three starts over 20 innings.

“He’s got a lot of momentum going right now,” Getz said. “He’s in a very good position for success. He’s right where you want a player to be when we graduate them to the major leagues.”

McCatty, when talking about Kopech on ESPN 1000 with Fred Huebner, said Kopech’s fastball, slider and curveball are all plus pitches.

McCatty also has some experience with big time prospects coming up to the majors. He was the Nationals pitching coach when Stephen Strasburg made his major league debut in 2010. He had some advice for Kopech for his White Sox debut.

“I told him make sure you’re not throwing 102 in the first inning,” McCatty said with a laugh. “He’s gonna be exciting. He’s a specially talented kid. There’s no question about it.”

In Getz’s in-game interview with Jason Benetti and Steve Stone, Benetti asked about Kopech’s upside. Getz didn’t temper expectations in his response.

“To be a front end guy,” Getz said. “He’s got all the ingredients that all the best pitchers have. Michael, he’s going to be himself. He’s got a great personality. He’s got great stuff on the mound. He’s just going to be a guy that’s got a chance to be in the major leagues for a long time at the front end of a major league staff. In terms of throwing comparisons out there, there’s no need to do that. He’s going to be himself and he’s going to be a good one.”