Going into the season, Chris Getz’s goal for Luis Robert was to get through a full, healthy season.
Robert, the top White Sox prospect, did so much more than that in 2019.
“Not only was he able to accomplish that, but he went out there and he got off to a great start and never slowed down,” Getz, the White Sox farm director, said on the White Sox Talk Podcast. “We continued to challenge him with different levels and he continued to perform at an elite level.”
The accolades are still coming in for Robert after his standout season that spanned three levels of the minors. The talk quickly went from him simply staying healthy to becoming a debate on when he should be called up to the majors.
“You look back at the year, what our initial goal was and it’s pretty impressive what he was able to accomplish,” Getz said.
Getz said the White Sox saw glimpses of Robert’s ability when he first joined the team in spring training in 2018, but a thumb injury limited him to 50 games. He didn’t hit any home runs and then bounced back in 2019 with 32 home runs.
“It was just a fraction of the player that he was,” Getz said. “We have the setback with the thumb. You don’t really know how much it’s affecting him. You look at this past season and it’s like ‘Wow, he’s really coming together.’ I think that certainly going through what he’s gone through with the thumb injury, but also he was getting acclimated not only to the organization but the United States. He was much more comfortable. You talk to his coaches this year. Everyone that was interacting with him. He was able to go out there and be himself and just go out there and play baseball. You see him on the bench or in the clubhouse and he’s starting to have fun. He was showing his personality in a lot of different ways. You look back and it was just an astounding year.”
As for the question of if Robert should have been up, Getz didn’t say anything that other members of the White Sox front office have said.
“Sure, there are guys that are getting called up with lesser numbers,” Getz said. “However, what’s the best route for Luis Robert? We felt the best route was not to bring him up here.”
Getz admitted Robert was disappointed to not be up with the White Sox now, but said he “handled it like a professional.”
Part of the logic of ending his season when the Triple-A season ended was the desire to see Robert refine his approach at the plate. Getz described Robert as an “ultra aggressive” hitter, who can square up balls but will get tested by major league pitchers..
“When he gets to the big leagues they’re going to want him to chase pitches,” Getz said. “He needs to hone the zone. He’s a guy that his plate appearances are fairly quick. He goes up there swinging. So in terms of making sense of his at-bats, sometimes it’s a little all over the map. He needs to really bear down and put a plan together and execute on a consistent basis. If he does that, we have a chance to have a very good player right out of the gate. You don’t want to have a player who comes up here and then has to learn that adjustment.”