Luis Robert

MLB Pipeline unveils its refreshed list of the top 30 prospects in White Sox system

MLB Pipeline unveils its refreshed list of the top 30 prospects in White Sox system

MLB Pipeline has been rolling out its lists of each farm system's top 30 prospects, and they finally got around to the White Sox on Thursday.

The site ranked the White Sox system as the fourth best in baseball, with its top three to be unveiled Friday. We already knew how the top six guys in the White Sox system stacked up because they were all included on MLB Pipeline's list of the top 100 prospects in the game. Now we've got the full top 30. Here it is:

1. Eloy Jimenez, OF

2. Michael Kopech, RHP

3. Dylan Cease, RHP

4. Luis Robert, OF

5. Nick Madrigal, 2B

6. Dane Dunning, RHP

7. Luis Basabe, OF

8. Micker Adolfo, OF

9. Blake Rutherford, OF

10. Luis Gonzalez, OF

11. Steele Walker, OF

12. Zack Collins, C

13. Jake Burger, 3B

14. Ian Hamilton, RHP

15. Alec Hansen, RHP

16. Zack Burdi, RHP

17. Laz Rivera, SS

18. Gavin Sheets, 1B

19. Jimmy Lambert, RHP

20. Konnor Pilkington, LHP

21. Bryce Bush, 3B

22. Seby Zavala, C

23. Jose Ruiz, RHP

24. Zach Thompson, RHP

25. Caleb Frare, LHP

26. Lincoln Henzman, RHP

27. Jonathan Stiever, RHP

28. Tyler Johnson, RHP

29. Jordan Stephens, RHP

30. Ryan Burr, RHP

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It's an all-important year for Luis Robert

It's an all-important year for Luis Robert

GLENDALE, Ariz. — It's an all-important year for Luis Robert.

It seems like Robert's been around for a decently long time after signing as an international free agent in 2017. But he's played a grand total of 50 minor league games in the United States.

He's just 21 years old, but he fell behind a few of his fellow White Sox prospects, from a timing perspective, thanks to a season-long battle with injuries in 2018. Two thumb injuries did the most damage to his developmental timeline, keeping him from debuting until June and limiting his power once he did return.

"It was a season with a few bumps," Robert said through a team translator Sunday at Camelback Ranch. "I started playing good here in spring training and then had the injury. I came back, but I didn't perform the way that I like because of the injury, and then I re-injured my thumb. I came back stronger but I got injured again. But at the end, I think I finished the season strong. It was a learning experience and I think right now, I'm in a better position to have success this year."

Of course, this isn't to say that Robert is in any danger of falling out of the White Sox future plans. He's as much a part of those as he ever was, and his skills continue to earn rave reviews from anyone you ask. He's ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 4 prospect in the White Sox organization and the No. 40 prospect in the game.

But the White Sox will admit it's rather important that Robert stay healthy this season, continue his development and move through the minor league system toward the South Side so he can be a part of the much-anticipated transition from rebuilding mode to contending mode.

"Hopefully this year he gets a complete year under his belt healthy, which will, to be honest, tell us a lot about where he’s at," manager Rick Renteria said Sunday. "I think he’s made strides. We all love what he’s capable of doing, we all love the physical skill. He had a nice (Arizona) Fall League. He’s progressing, even though he’s had limited time due to the hand injury. But I think this year will be a big year for him in terms of his progression.

"Guys with talent like that seem to progress pretty quickly. So hopefully he’s one of those guys that’s able to do that, and see how it impacts us moving down the road at the major league level."

The Arizona Fall League performance was a mighty positive sign for those waiting to see what a healthy year for Robert might look like. He slashed .324/.367/.432 with a couple homers and 10 RBIs in 18 games. He wowed just about everyone with his talent. He scored from second base on a sacrifice fly.

"He’s got that type of talent," Renteria said. "I think he’s one of those guys that you want to see his overall game come into play. I think the experience that he’s going to gain this summer will play a big part. ... Guys like that, that skill set, hopefully they jump exponentially in terms of their growth and their maturation. We’re hopeful that he’s one of those guys. And looking at some of the video we did see and conversing with everybody, everybody sees where he’s going and we’re looking forward to seeing him continue to develop."

"It was very important for me because I just played (50) games in the regular season and I had an opportunity to get some at-bats there and perform at the level that I think I can do," Robert said. "It was very, very important for me and for my confidence."

Robert shares his fellow prospects' ever-present confidence, and he once again relayed how often they all talk about playing together in the major leagues and turning the White Sox into a championship team.

The White Sox, though, are working, as they have throughout the ongoing rebuilding effort, to make Robert's development as comfortable as possible. His locker at Camelback Ranch sits right between big leaguers and fellow Cubans Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada.

"For me, it's very important to have them by my side," Robert said. "Abreu is a veteran, he knows the league and he knows the things you need to do in order to get better. Moncada is a young guy, but he has experience, too. Because he's younger, I can relate more with him. We're always trying to have fun, but they're always giving me advice on how to think, how to get a better routine and how to get better in order to take advantage of my abilities."

Of course, Abreu and Moncada won't be with Robert down in the minors this season. But the most important thing is that injuries are nowhere to be found, either.

If they stay away, Robert could finally show what he's capable of, and that could end with him rocketing toward Chicago.

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Where the White Sox top prospects rank on MLB Pipeline's new top-100 list

Where the White Sox top prospects rank on MLB Pipeline's new top-100 list

You know the White Sox have a loaded farm system. You know they have a bunch of highly rated prospects. But if you were busy attending SoxFest or following all the happenings at the Hilton Chicago, you might've missed MLB Pipeline unveiling its preseason list of the top 100 prospects in the game.

Well, six White Sox prospects landed on the list, so let's update where they all rank.

Eloy Jimenez, the top-ranked prospect in the White Sox system, is still the No. 3 prospect in baseball, ranking behind only Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays and Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres. Jimenez is expected to bring his incredible bat to the big leagues within the first few weeks of the 2019 season, and he'll likely be jousting with Guerrero all season for the American League Rookie of the Year Award. Tatis, of course, is the former White Sox prospect traded in the James Shields deal in 2016, something Rick Hahn revisited with some colorful commentary during SoxFest.

The next White Sox prospect on the list is Michael Kopech at No. 18. Kopech made his major league debut last summer, but he'll miss the entire 2019 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. That means he'll hang onto that top-prospects status until 2020, when he rejoins the White Sox rotation.

Dylan Cease is the No. 21 prospect in baseball thanks to his remarkable 2018 campaign that ended with him being named MLB Pipeline's minor league pitcher of the year. He's ticketed to begin 2019 at Triple-A Charlotte, and he's expected to be on the same track Kopech was last season. If he pitches well and avoids the bumps in the road Kopech did in the middle of last season, Cease could arrive earlier in the calendar.

Outfielder Luis Robert ranks No. 40 on the list. While he's got incredible talent and is deserving of the hype, he's probably further away from the majors than some of the other highest-rated prospects in the organization. White Sox fans have been hearing about Robert for a long time, as he was signed in May 2017, but it's important to remember he doesn't have much minor league experience at all. He didn't play his first minor league game in the United States until last June, and he ended up playing in only 50 games in 2018 while battling thumb injuries.

The fifth top-50 player in the White Sox organization is Nick Madrigal, last year's first-round draft pick out of Oregon State, ranked at No. 47. Madrigal's arrival date is unknown at this point, as he has yet to play above Class A, but it is interesting because he could be moving rapidly through the system. After joining the organization following a College World Series championship, he played at three different levels. He was touted as the best all-around player in college baseball when the White Sox drafted him.

Dane Dunning won't be coming to big league spring training, getting eased in after an elbow injury last season. He'll start the season at Double-A Birmingham, and he'll be doing it as the No. 80 prospect in baseball. He was outstanding last season before the injury, posting a 2.71 ERA.

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