Luis Robert gives White Sox needed dose of good prospect news

A game-winning grand slam is a fine way to cap off a first start

Alec Hansen joined Micker Adolfo and Jake Burger on the list of gutting prospect injuries when he felt soreness in his right forearm during a bullpen session. He’s scratched for the rest of spring, but Rick Hahn said the MRI showed no damage.

‘‘Everything is fine with Alec,’’ general manager Rick Hahn said. ‘‘Anytime a guy expresses [soreness], we understandably — especially this time of year — err on side of caution and shut him down, get him looked at.’’ […]

Hahn said Hansen was sent for the MRI ‘‘to clear the general manager’s mind, not his, because of the way things have gone the first few weeks.’’

Then there’s Eloy Jimenez, who has been limited to one spring training plate appearance because of knee tendinitis. He’s supposedly progressing, taking batting practice and running the bases on Wednesday, but it’s slow going for an injury that didn’t sound so serious at the outset.

With this cloud hanging over Camelback Ranch, Luis Robert made his first spring start. That felt a little like ignoring a trend and tempting fate, especially when he came to bat in the eighth inning in an attempt to survive an entire game on March 7.

Robert rewarded the Sox handsomely for sticking with him.

He came to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded facing Jackson Stephens, who’d battled both bad luck (two soft singles) himself (two walks) during the inning. Stephens tried to get ahead with a first-pitch slider, but it was a bit of a spinner. The question was whether the speed would fool him enough, but nope:

Robert said he was looking for a slider, and he acted like it. He kept his hands back long enough that, when he swatted the pitch, neither the direction nor the distance were in doubt. The grand slam gave the White Sox their first lead of the day, and Brad Goldberg closed it out for a 14-12 victory.

It had been an unremarkable day for Robert beforehand. In his first four plate appearances, hee grounded out to short, flied out to left, drew a tough walk and stole a base, then struck out looking.

He also got a workout in center thanks to an ugly outing by Miguel Gonzalez. In the first inning alone, he caught a sac fly, chased down a a pair of singles and came up just short on his attempt to flag down Phillip Ervin’s drive to the deepest part of the park.

He came through with a catch to in the third inning, running down a Nick Senzel drive in deep right center without having to think about leaving his feet.

There was a lot to like, because the word “unremarkable” is its own kind of praise for a 20-year-old against more advanced players. The homer was the second ball he lifted to left, as he was able to get around on an inside-corner Homer Bailey fastball and hoist it just short of the warning track.

On his walk, he swung over a 1-1 changeup from Amir Garrett to get into a tough count. Nevertheless, he hung in there to take a slider and a high fastball, fouled off a backdoor slider, then laid off another low slider for ball four.

So there was a lot to like from Robert even before he hit a game-winning grand slam. I wouldn’t stop him if he wanted to deliver more such hits in the future, though.

* * *

[dropcap]H[/dropcap]ad Robert looked more like a normal 20-year-old in that situation, Yoan Moncada’s big day would have easily been the day’s biggest story.

Moncada had stumbled out of the gate this spring, starting 1-for-15 with three walks and seven strikeouts. Those struggles were magnified because Rick Renteria announced plans to bat Moncada leadoff, at least early on. Normally a player entering his first full season would be allowed to wobble in relative peace at this point in the year, but the numbers raised the question whether Renteria was putting too much on his plate.

Two games later, Moncada is hitting a leadoff man’s .273/.407/.318 after going 5-for-6 with two walks in games against Oakland and Cincinnati. He was perfect against the Reds, and not just at the plate. Sure, he went 3-for-3 with a double and a walk, but he also made a couple of demanding plays to his left, and this incredible play to his right:

So he’s fine. He still may struggle as he makes a full lap around the league, but at least you can stand down for now.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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Willardmarshall

Sure beats prospect-ranking season….

katiesphil

Oh, lawd yes.

mikeyb

How did Moncada end up playing 2nd/3rd base for the Red Sox? He seems to have impressive range and plenty of arm strength to be a SS. Not that I’m complaining about having a potential stud at 2nd.

GrinnellSteve

Love that play by Moncada.

Lurker Laura

The Alec Hansen injury worries me. He’s our sleeping giant (literally on that second part) on the pitching staff. Would like him to not turn into Carlos Rodon. (I know, a bit of a reach on the comp. But Rodon’s latest issues started with vague soreness as well.)

PauliePaulie

Someone needs to investigate each injured players proximity to Avi when calamity struck. Clearly, with Garcia not in the line-up, Robert was safe. For now.

katiesphil

If this were pre-2017 Avi, Robert would have at least a couple of broken ribs by now.

Anohito

You already won the arb case Avi! What more do you want?! Cease the madness! Spare our prospects!

Red_Hair_White_Sox

Is that a clue to the next victim? Everyone protect Dylan!

johnnyg83

that was a super slow slider. More of a sliiiiiiddddeeeerrrr.

Jason.Wade17

Robert looks like the righty Ken Griffey Jr with a bit more speed. I’ll assume thats his floor going forward.

Lurker Laura

Wouldn’t that be swell?

katiesphil

I like your attitude.

mikeschach

but since Robert’s not quite ready and no real 3rd baseman in site – how bout someone swoops in and signs CarGo for 2 yrs, Moose for 4 and Jake (in the role of Lester) for 4 and we get this show on the road?

Right Size Wrong Shape

Because those guys aren’t any better than who we already have, and they’re more expensive (well, not Arieta, but I don’t like how he’s trending).

Patrick Nolan

patience, young schachhopper

gibby32

Sure, someone can swoop in. It just better not be the White Sox. And, “sight”.

Josh Nelson

For those that are following Matthew Liberatore and Nolan Gorman, I spoke with Richard Morin of The Arizona Republic about them.

PauliePaulie

Gorman is currently my 3rd favorite draft prospect. BA had some nice things to say in a recent pod.

MrTopaz

Good stuff. I’ll live with a pitcher if he’s BPA, but I’m kind of hung up on Gorman. Hopefully Morin’s right, and he’s on his way to at least being a playable 3B.

PauliePaulie

Nice interview on mlb.com with the semi-forgotten Blake Rutherford. I still have high hopes for him.

Patrick Nolan

who?

PauliePaulie

One of the 2 kids they should have drafted instead of Collins.

bemyvalentin

“Got a hooker and just buried it out there” is not the greatest replay analysis one could make.

Lurker Laura

Heh. With talk like that, he has all the makings of a scandal-plagued politician.

katiesphil

Hawk After Dark

jorgefabregas

… (ignore this comment)

Patrick Nolan

No. I am offended by it and resent the fact that you just want me to let it pass on by.

katiesphil

He certainly did go out of his way to call attention to. Now I want to know.

jorgefabregas

It was a poorly formatted spreadsheet table.

ParisSox

TWSS

Josh Nelson

For next time, this site could be your friend.
http://tableizer.journalistopia.com/

Ted Mulvey

Holy smokes. That’s an awesome resource!

Patrick Nolan

Wow — very good. Thanks Josh.

jorgefabregas

Nice

jorgefabregas

Hmm. Couldn’t figure out how to put the HTML in a comment (not to be confused with commenting it out).

PauliePaulie

Glad we can finally put the Moose and CarGo nonsense to bed.

Trooper Galactus

WOW. Amazing no other team was willing to pay at least that, though I guess KC might have gotten at least a small discount compared to the competition. Still, 1/$8.7 million is barely half of what I thought he’d bring in on a short-term deal, and at that price I probably wouldn’t have cared if the White Sox had signed him (though I’d still want a healthy dose of playing time for Yolmer regardless).

mikeyb

He got less than half of the Qualifying Offer he turned down in November. You have to fire your agent at this point, right?