Dallas Keuchel called him “a freak.”
Lucas Giolito called him “an absolute beast.”
Way back in January, Eloy Jiménez called him “the next Mike Trout.”
Indeed, no player on the White Sox is generating more buzz right now than Luis Robert.
White Sox fans have cranked the hype machine into overdrive for the 22-year-old outfielder, who’s been pegged by evaluators as the best of the team’s collection of talented young stars in the making.
Watching him during “Summer Camp” — the three-week stretch of workouts, intrasquad games and exhibition contests leading up to Friday’s season-opener — it’s not difficult to see why. Robert’s loaded toolbox has been on full display this month as the White Sox have readied for the 60-game 2020 season.
He’s hit line drives down the foul line and into the Wrigley Field ivy. He’s slugged home runs almost all the way to the concourse and while falling over. He’s covered an immense amount of territory in center field and called off any teammate in his vicinity. He’s showed off his throwing arm and flashed his speed on the base paths.
All eyes have been on Robert, and White Sox fans have gobbled up every shred of information about a guy who could bring superstardom to the South Side. Fans are giddy, the media is feeding the beast, and Robert’s teammates have every right to be excited.
So what do the guys sharing the field with Robert think about him? About his ability? About his potential?
There’s be no better way to show how highly the White Sox think of Robert than to get the White Sox talking about Robert.
He’s been the talk of “Summer Camp.” Here’s all that talk.
Dallas Keuchel, starting pitcher: “He’s got all the tools. When somebody signs a pretty good deal before they even get to the big leagues, then you know they’ve got a real shot to be special. And he knows that, which is great. But he also puts in the work. I see him over with (José) Abreu all the time, and (Edwin) Encarnación, a guy that really wants to take it to an extreme.
“I’m not big on nicknames — I don’t know if he came up with the ‘La Pantera' — but I started calling him that myself just because the guy is a freak. He could be something special for years to come, so I wholeheartedly know why the front office tried to lock him up before he even got to the big leagues.”
Luis Robert went yard again, you guys. pic.twitter.com/xf0bealcWQ— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) July 19, 2020
Lucas Giolito, starting pitcher, after Robert hit a titanic home run in an intrasquad game: "That was crazy. I don't know if I've seen a ball hit that far to left field, like one or two rows from the concourse there. Unbelievable athlete, obviously extremely strong and extremely fast. I've been impressed with his outfield defense, big time. I know that he really puts his work in out there practicing the defensive side. Obviously, the bat kind of spoke for itself.
“I think that he's going to be an absolute beast for the next 10 to 20 years. I'm excited he's on our team."
Joe McEwing, bench coach, after Robert showed off all five tools in an intrasquad game: “What he did today is a reflection of what he could possibly do in every aspect to change a game.
“He made two plays look extremely easy that were very, very difficult plays. Then he grinded out an at-bat. And even when he's on first base and doesn't attempt to steal or attempt to run, he's putting so much pressure on that pitcher to be quicker, to hurry up. It allows that hitter to get better pitches. Being able to score from first base on a double down the line, where there wasn't even a throw. The (runner tagging from third base on a fly ball) early on, first inning, outstanding throw to the plate.
“It just shows every tool today with his speed, with his hit ability, with his arm, with his baserunning. It was a pretty impressive player, and we're thankful he's on our side.”
Ross Detwiler, relief pitcher: “I mean, you can't even tell how young he is, you just think you're around a veteran.”
Adam Engel, outfielder: “What a special player he is. I can't say enough good things about him as a player and as a young guy.
“Obviously we all know the guy flies. And he wants to play fast. So that's been my biggest communication to him dating back to the spring. 'If we can hit on these two or three things defensively in the outfield and you get really good at these two or three things, then you can play as fast as you want.'
“I've had the conversation with him like, 'You're a special case.' We have these rules in baseball like don't make the third out at third, all these rules you learn as you get older. I'm like, 'All these rules are not for fast players like yourself. You kind of have to push the limits and push the boundaries because you have the ability to do things that other people can't.’”
Dylan Cease, starting pitcher: “I think the biggest thing is just how big he is. I think I saw that on Twitter someone tweeted an Under Armour mannequin, and it's actually pretty accurate. That's what he looks like.”
The Luis Robert falling-down home run for the intrasquad ages pic.twitter.com/WCcNxwXz0Z— Vinnie Duber (@VinnieDuber) July 11, 2020
Carlos Rodon, starting pitcher, after Robert hit a home run while falling down in an intrasquad game: “That was pretty impressive. Honestly I didn’t think that ball would get out. After that first at bat, he hit a fastball away, and I noticed he just missed that because he hit it sky high, a major league popup. On that next at-bat, when I went in, I didn’t think he’d get to it. He fell over in the process and still hit it out.
“I’m glad he’s on my team.”
Nick Madrigal, second baseman: “I know there've been some clips out there of him tracking down balls and even that one of him hitting that ball to center field off balance, falling down. I've seen it so often, it doesn't surprise me at this moment.
“A lot of people are shocked, 'How'd he do that?' But I know how much raw power he has. I've seen him hit balls 400 feet just one-handed. He's a tremendous athlete, and I think he's going to be great this year.”
Luis Robert, center fielder: “It was the first time that something like that happened to me. 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.
“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.
“Every time that I do something that people don’t see very often, I know that they’re going to start talking and there will be some jokes about that. Like today, when I got to the dugout, our hitting coach said, ‘That’s going to be shown on SportsCenter or ESPN.' When I got to the clubhouse, I was checking my social media channels, and a lot of people were talking about that. I did something that made me feel good.”
Nomar Mazara, right fielder: “The talent he has is unbelievable. He’s going to do crazy stuff like that over and over and over again. You guys are going to be like, ‘Wow. This guy is unbelievable.’”
Cease: “Anything that’s in the air to center, as long as it doesn’t feel like it’s gone, it’s probably going to be caught.”
McEwing: “He can go (foul) line to (foul) line. … You think you're sitting camped underneath a ball, and here comes Luis Robert out of nowhere, which is a normal fly ball to left field and he's able to catch it.
“It was funny, when he broke his wrist two years ago, he was out there left-handed, shagging left-handed, going line to line in spring training.”
Mazara: “He’ll make it easy because he’s a true center fielder who goes for every single ball. If you saw yesterday, somebody hit a pop up to left field, and Eloy was calling it and (Robert) said, ‘No, that’s my ball.’ You definitely want a guy like that.”
José Abreu, first baseman: “Even though he hasn't played in the majors yet, he's a young guy, but he's matured very fast. That's going to help him. With the talent that he has, it won't take too long for him to get used to the league.
“We're all going to be helping him. We're all going to be teaching him and supporting him. That's going to be a plus because anytime he needs help, he needs something, we're going to be there for him.”
Yoán Moncada, third baseman: “As you know and as you’ve seen him, he’s a young guy with a lot of talent. Everybody saw that during the spring. I think for him the key is to just play his game, don’t feel pressure, and with the support of all of us, he’s going to be good. I’m very confident he’s going to have a very, very good season just because of the talent he has.
“I passed through that process, and Abreu was there helping me through the process and that was very helpful. And I think for him, it’s going to be the same. We’re going to be there for whatever he needs, for whatever questions that he has. That’s going to be very helpful for him. We’re always going to be there for him.”
Eloy Jiménez, left fielder: “Luis Robert is a great guy. When I met him a couple years ago I said, 'When we play together, I'm going to take care of you because you are my boy.' Now, we are together, and he has kind of the same contract like me and I know what it feels like, and I'm going to help him.
“For me, it's going to be good. It's going to be a challenge, but it's going to be good.”
Robert: “It has been important for me to have Eloy in this process because he passed through this last year and he already has the experience. He's been helping me, just giving me advice, trying to let me know, 'Don't get crazy,' if for whatever reason I get into a slump or if I don't get a base hit in my first game or my first at-bat. ‘Don't get too anxious. That's going to come.’
“I think the main thing I've taken from him is just be patient and be confident. In good or bad times, don't get desperate because that would play against me. He's been telling me that every day, and I appreciate that because he already passed through this last year.”
Edwin Encarnación, designated hitter: “We have outstanding talent in the young players we have right now, Eloy, Robert. … We have a lot of talent here and will display that all of this season. That will be exciting. We have a lot of talent. These guys will be outstanding.”
McEwing: “He’s individually putting high expectations on himself. He has a lot of pride in what he does, and he’s confident in what he does.
“There’s going to be a lot of curves, a lot of growing curves to go along with it, as we saw (with) every individual that has come up. Yoán early on, (Tim Anderson) early on, and they need to go through that.
“The quicker he’s able to make those adjustments, the better off we are going to be and he’s going to be in the long run.”
Robert: “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. 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.
“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.”
Jiménez, during SoxFest in January: “Some people are going to call me crazy, but he’s going to be the next Mike Trout. He has five tools, and he plays hard like Mike Trout.”
Robert: “I know people are talking about comparisons, comparing me to different players. I know Eloy already told the media that I was to be the next Mike Trout. I feel good about that, but I really don't try to think much about that. I'm going to try just to do what I know I can do and keep my focus on the game. But definitely, it's an honor to be compared with those great players.”
McEwing: “Under this mask, I’m smiling from ear to ear. We are as an organization because we are going to have an opportunity to see this for a long period of time. He’s a special talent. I said this a couple of years ago: 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 asset of his game, whether it’s running, playing defense, throwing, hitting. He’s a pretty special talent.
"I see somebody who is amazingly confident in what he does and wants to be the best at what he does. … He's a winner. He wants to win. He wants to help everyone around him to be better.”
Robert: “The goal is just win and win the World Series with this team. I think that's the main goal for everybody on this team, just try to help this team win. I know if the team does well, I'll be good, too, because I'm going to be part of that success.
“Since the first moment I signed with this organization, the fans have been attracted to what I do. … My first year in the U.S. wasn’t good because I got injured, but last year I had a really good season and this year I am going to be able to perform and have a good season, too. I think that is going to bring joy to the fans.
“I am going to try to do whatever I can to bring that happiness to them and that joy and to help this team. Just to enjoy this game and do the things I can do. Definitely made me feel good knowing the fans want to see me and expect a lot of things about me.”
McEwing: “There’s nothing on the field that he can’t do.”