White Sox would like to plug another top young Cuban prospect into their farm system, and indications are they are willing to open the checkbook for 19-year-old center fielder Luis Robert.
Other teams are, too, for the fleet power hitter who held private workouts for the Sox, Cardinals and Padres last week in the Dominican Republic. Robert is also on the Reds, A’s and Astros wish lists.
“I expect there will be robust bidding on this player,’’ said general manager Rick Hahn, who, along with vice president Ken Williams, was among the Sox contingent at the workout.
It was Williams who scouted Cuban slugger Jose Abreu and was sold on the first baseman’s hitting approach and routine before the Sox wooed him with $68 million over six years, their biggest contract ever, in 2013. The Sox acquired Cuban second baseman Yoan Moncada with three other prospects from the Red Sox for Chris Sale last winter, and Moncada is flourishing at AAA Charlotte. Adding Robert up the middle would be another big score for the rebuilding plan.
Hahn remained coy but said, “I’m always optimistic. It’s much easier to go about life that way.
“But look, it’s going to be robust bidding and we’ll see how it unfolds in the coming weeks.’’
Were he rated among baseball’s top prospects, Robert is said to be a top-25 player. He’s 6-3, runs well, hits for power and profiles in center.
“He’s an extremely talented young man who is going to have an impact on whatever organization he winds up joining,’’ Hahn said.
Moncada, 21, meanwhile, continues to make a huge impact at AAA Charlotte but Hahn made it clear Sox fans in Chicago should be patient.
“It’s not in the long-term interest of Yoan Moncada or the club’’ to call him up now, he said.
There is nothing about Moncada’s work ethic or character that is slowing the process, however, Hahn said.
“He does have that special star caliber makeup where he is willing to pay the price to be great,’’ Hahn said. “The tools are obviously off the chart, but seeing him on a daily basis you get to appreciate how special of an individual he is as well and therefore is in a position to maximize those tools and reach his ceiling.’’