White Sox

White Sox tempted to promote prospect Sanchez

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White Sox tempted to promote prospect Sanchez

With a vacancy at third base and no easy solution, theres no doubt the budget-conscious White Sox are tempted to promote prospect Carlos Sanchez to the majors.

The Venezuelan-born middle infielder is the franchises most buzzworthy prospect after he sped through the farm system last season. Sanchez, 20, followed it with a stellar Arizona Fall League performance.

How strong was his showing? Enough for the White Sox -- who are already near or past their 97-100 million budgeted payroll for 2013 -- to at least consider the second basemanshortstop as an option at third if they cant sign free agent Kevin Youkilis or someone else even though Sanchez has only 158 at-bats above Single-A.

But for now the White Sox plan to ward off those temptations, discover a different solution and leave the 20-year-old alone.

Hes the kind of kid who can deal with any kind of adversity, assistant general manager Buddy Bell said by phone Wednesday. The track he was on is very quick. He has tremendous makeup. He knows how to play and how to survive.

But I dont think theres any question about (delaying his arrival).

But boy is a promotion tempting.

With only 10 players under contract, the White Sox have already spent 89.95 million for 2013. That leaves general manager Rick Hahn with very little wiggle room as he expects payroll to be similar to last season, when the White Sox boasted an opening day figure of 97.7 million.

The top free agent at third, Youkilis might be difficult to fit into the budget.

Sanchez -- who was 17 when the White Sox signed him in May 2009 -- has done just about everything to put himself squarely in the conversation. Bell admits freely the White Sox have discussed the possibility of a move to third for Sanchez.

When youre as talented as this kid you would have to consider it, Bell said.

But the team likely prefers to keep Sanchez up the middle.

In a recent Baseball America write up, Single-A Kannapolis manager Tommy Thompson is quoted as calling Sanchez one of the best defensive players he has ever seen.

After he hit a combined .281 in 2011, Sanchezs bat improved significantly in 2012. He hit a combined .323.378.403 with a homer, 56 RBIs and 26 steals in a season that started at Single-A Winston-Salem, included a stop at Double-A Birmingham and ended at Triple-A Charlotte.

As if that werent enough, Sanchez has White Sox decision-makers drooling after he hit .299 in the Fall League and finished with 12 runs, 16 RBIs and 11 steals in 22 games.

Hes a good little player, Hahn recently said. Hes (on the radar) for good reason. Were very enthusiastic about his future, but at the same time we have to resist the temptation to rush him. He has been swinging it real well. Hes a solid contact hitter with good plate awareness and can drive the ball, good line-drive stroke. The glove is pretty good. The first go-around (Kannapolis) was defensively, but all he has done since then is hit. Hes a very well-rounded player.

Baseball America has Sanchez rated as the No. 3 prospect in the organization, a noteworthy jump from 2011 when the publication didnt have him listed among the White Sox top 30 minor-leaguers.

He kind of came from out of nowhere, Bell said.

Though Sanchez isnt on the 40-man roster -- he doesnt have to be protected until next November -- an invite to big league camp sounds like a strong possibility. At the GM meetings in California earlier this month, Hahn noted the White Sox have a history of bringing the best players with them to Chicago when they leave spring training.

At the same time, the White Sox must continue to remind themselves Sanchez has only 1,151 plate appearances in four professional seasons.

I dont think were at the point of talking big leagues yet, Bell said.

Luis Robert's legend grows, suggesting White Sox should ready for superstardom

Luis Robert's legend grows, suggesting White Sox should ready for superstardom

The legend of La Pantera grew even larger Saturday. And he made it seem rather mundane.

"I was sitting on a soft pitch on the outside, and then this pitch was in and I had to react and swing the bat, and I think that was why I fell when I hit the ball."

Luis Robert's description of the event dramatically undersold what happened. The dude homered while he was falling down.


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Of course, Robert makes everything look easy. Why wouldn't he make it all sound easy, too?

The truth is that the much hyped Robert can do just about everything on the baseball field, and that apparently now includes sending a ball over the fence while simultaneously toppling to the ground in a somewhat cartoonish fashion. If you didn't think the hype train could move at a higher speed after he thrilled minor league audiences last season with a true five-tool display, then you weren't prepared for the highlight from Saturday's intrasquad game on the South Side that caught like wildfire across the baseball-loving sections of the internet.

Robert's arrival in the major leagues, however delayed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, is part of the reason the White Sox look capable of making their long awaited leap out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode this season. He's being described as the best of the team's collection of talented youngsters and talked up as one of baseball's next superstars.

The best part of all of that for the White Sox?

"I'm glad he's on my team," said pitcher Carlos Rodón, who had the unfortunate distinction of being the guy who gave up that bananas home run.

Indeed he is on this team, and thanks to the big-money deal that paved his way to the Opening Day lineup, Robert is going to be on this team for a long time. A pair of options at the end of that contract allow for Robert to remain in a White Sox uniform through the 2027 season. Rick Hahn's always talking about keeping this team in contention mode for as long as possible. Inking Robert's name into the projected lineup for the next eight seasons surely helps.

"I'm smiling from ear to ear," White Sox bench coach Joe McEwing said Saturday. "We are as an organization because we are going to have an opportunity to see this for a long period of time.

"He's an individual who you pay to go watch play. ... You can come to the ballpark and understand he has a chance to do something special every day in every aspect of his game, whether it's running, playing defense, throwing, hitting.

"What he did today, ... I saw him sitting on the ground and I was like, 'Run, run, run!' and then I realized the ball was 15 rows deep. He's a pretty special talent, and we are fortunate and lucky to have him on our side."

The question, though, doesn't seem to be how good Robert will be one day but how good he'll be from Day 1.

RELATED: 2020 White Sox lineup: This looks like what it could be come Opening Day

Robert was expected to have a full six months in his first taste of the big leagues, expected to have time to make the kinds of adjustments Eloy Jiménez did as a rookie last season, when he started slowly only to catch fire for a white-hot month of September. Robert won't have that luxury, with the season squeezed down from its typical six-month marathon to a two-month, 60-game sprint.

But Robert doesn't seem to view that as much of a problem. Like the uber-talented White Sox youngsters who have arrived on the South Side before him, he's a confident kid. And while he's not going as far as Jiménez did in January, when the left fielder called his new center fielder "the next Mike Trout," Robert's expecting to be able to hit the ground running while seeing big league pitching for the first time.

"I am feeling very confident," he said Saturday through team interpreter Billy Russo. "I feel real good right now, mentally and physically, and I think that is important. I think that's why I have been able to get the results that I've been having during this time.

"Being here facing major league pitchers, even though they are my teammates, has helped me a lot because that's an advantage for me to know what I'm going to face once the season starts.

"I don't know if I think about doing extraordinary things. I just think in terms of doing the best that I can in every aspect of the game, in every play that I'm involved in. And I think that's the reason why I've been able to do very good things. That's the reason why, I just try to do my best every time."

RELATED: What Michael Kopech skipping season means for White Sox in 2020 and beyond

Robert's presence is just one of a whole bunch of reasons the White Sox appear primed for a big jump in 2020. He's part of a remade lineup featuring veteran additions Yasmani Grandal, Edwin Encarnación and Nomar Mazara. He's one of two highly touted prospects who could take over starting roles this season, along with Nick Madrigal. He's the newest addition to a White Sox core that already had its breakout season a year ago, when Jiménez, Yoán Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Tim Anderson did such big things.

And this is just the beginning. So many of those guys are under team control for years into the future. And so even if Robert and the White Sox don't rise to the level of World Series contenders in 2020, they're planning to do it soon — and stay there for a long while.

How good can Robert be during that stretch? The consensus seems to be that the sky is the limit. And if his wardrobe choice for his Saturday session with reporters, a LeBron James jersey, was any indication, the South Side could be in for larger-than-life superstardom.

"I think that every athlete has that in mind," he said, asked if he had designs on being as good as James, one of the greatest basketball players of all-time. "When you see what other athletes have done, whatever the sport they’re playing, it’s something that you use to motivate yourself."


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Luis Robert hits home run while falling down during White Sox intrasquad game

Luis Robert hits home run while falling down during White Sox intrasquad game

They say Luis Robert can do it all.

Who knows how often he'll be called upon to hit a home run while falling down, but it turns out he can do that, too.

Robert lifted a Carlos Rodón pitch out of Guaranteed Rate Field during Saturday's intrasquad game on the South Side. While it was happening, or perhaps immediately afterward, he fell over and landed on the other side of home plate.

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Worrywarts have no need to panic, he got right up, picked up his batting helmet and trotted around the bases. The next inning, he returned to his spot in center field.

So instead of a terrifying moment, the White Sox rookie delivered a kooky — and frankly, kind of amazing — highlight for the ages.

And so his legend grows.

Robert has already been the player to command the most fan interest during "Summer Camp" workouts. He heads into his first big league season as the most hyped White Sox prospect in recent memory, topping the excitement levels generated by the debuts of Eloy Jiménez, Michael Kopech and Yoán Moncada.

All that buzz comes after he thrilled minor league crowds last season with a combination of tape-measure home runs, blazing speed and highlight-reel catches in center field. That jam-packed toolbox has evaluators labeling him as the best of the White Sox collection of talented youngsters, and he's already being talked about as the game's next superstar.

"I see or hear all of that stuff," Robert said through team interpreter Billy Russo earlier this week. "I try to not pay attention to that. I know what I can do, and sometimes if you hear all that stuff, you’re going to have more pressure on you. And that might not be good for you because there is more. It’s good if people say that, but I just try to not pay too much attention to it.

"My expectations and goals are always the same. Give 100 percent, always, on the field, help the team as much as I can and hopefully go to the postseason. And if I’m lucky enough, maybe win the Rookie of the Year. Those are my goals, and if I stay healthy I feel confident I can do that."

RELATED: White Sox rookie Luis Robert confident in 'pretty hot' start to his '20 season

Robert has some challenges in this most unusual of baseball seasons. While getting his first taste of major league pitching, he was expected to have a full six months to make any necessary adjustments. Instead, he'll have just 60 games. Jiménez showed how useful having an entire season can be, starting slowly during his rookie campaign in 2019 only to figure things out in time for a white-hot month of September. If Robert doesn't catch fire immediately, he might not have the time to adjust before the season's almost over.

But that's not worrying Robert too much.

"If, for whatever reason, I don’t start the season as hot as I know I can, I will do my best to make the adjustments as fast as I can," he said. "But of course that’s not my mindset right now.

"I’m pretty sure I’m going to be able to start the season pretty hot and display all my talent. I will have to adjust as much as I can if I have any trouble."

After seeing what he did Saturday, maybe he's right.


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