Chicago White Sox: Favorites for Top International Prospect Luis Robert?
White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn was the unofficial victor of the offseason with the Chris Sale and Adam Eaton trades. That momentum could be pushing forward into the 2017 baseball calendar with rumors of interest in top international prospect Luis Robert.
Nineteen-year-old outfielder Luis Robert from Cuba has skyrocketed up the international prospect lists. He is currently only behind pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani of Japan on most rankings with the June 15 international signing period approaching.
Teams will be lining up for Robert’s services with upcoming showcases this month. The clubs rumored to be interested include San Diego, St. Louis, Houston, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Washington and Oakland.
However, Ben Badler of Baseball America believes that the White Sox are in the best position to land the young Cuban phenom:
The White Sox, though, are different. They have been laying low for the high-priced talent in the 2017-18 signing period. If Robert is not cleared until after June 15, the White Sox would have more room than most in their bonus pool to sign him. Even if Robert is cleared during the current signing period, the White Sox might just blow through their bonus pool to sign him anyway, since it wouldn’t affect their July 2 plans.
The White Sox could put themselves in a unique position if they do in fact land Robert. They currently boast what many consider to be one of the best farm systems in the game after the offseason deals with Boston and Washington. Further enhancements could be on the way with possible deals for Jose Quintana, David Robertson and Todd Frazier looming.
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The fit for Robert might be just what the White Sox need for coming seasons. The outfield depth in the majors and even throughout the minors isn’t a strength at the moment.
The current top outfield prospect in the Sox farm system (according to MLB Pipeline) is Luis Alexander Basabe, who they acquired in the Chris Sale trade. While Basabe is considered one of the better outfield prospects in baseball, he is the same age as Robert and several years away from starting at Guaranteed Rate Field. Several other noteworthy names in the farm system are talented, but aren’t “impact players” like what Robert is being billed as.
The White Sox currently do not have the answers to a championship formula in the outfield on their current roster. Melky Cabrera is another name who could be traded. Peter Bourjos is a stop-gap during the rebuild, and Charlie Tilson most likely will be a utility man if and when the White Sox are competing for a division title.
While the White Sox will endure what is likely a bottom-five finish in 2017, they could continue to build a winner off the field.