Put it in the books, and take Luis Robert off the board.
The White Sox signed the 19-year-old outfielder to a deal worth $27 million on Saturday. That’s the second-highest bonus issued to an international amateur under current regulations, behind only the $31.5 million the Red Sox paid Yoan Moncada — now also with the White Sox — in 2015.
Multiple reports surfaced last week that Robert had agreed to terms with Chicago on the first day he was eligible to sign. He officially inked the contract at a press conference seven days later.
“In adding Luis to our organization, we believe we have added a dynamic, potential impact player,” senior vice president and general manager Rick Hahn said during Saturday’s press conference. “He becomes instantly one of our top position player prospects … and one of the top prospects in the game.”
Robert, who’s allure among foreign-born players is eclipsed only by that of Japanese power hitter and fireballing pitcher Shohei Ohtani, was described to MLB.com by one American League international scouting director as “the best player on the planet.” The five-tool center fielder with especially impressive speed and power will report to Chicago’s complex in Glendale, Arizona before receiving an assignment to the Kannapolis Intimidators in the Class A South Atlantic League.
Speaking to media through a translator at the press conference, Robert said Chicago, “was the team that scouted me the most, and I felt comfortable with this team and the people that I met with.
“The White Sox tradition for Cuban players was something that motivated me to sign with this team and made me comfortable,” he added, referring to the likes of Minnie Minoso, Jose Contreras, Orlando Hernandez, Alexei Ramirez, Dayan Viciedo and Jose Abreu.
He left Cuba and established residency in Haiti in November. Major League Baseball declared him a free agent on April 20, which made him eligible for a deal on May 20.
In addition to Robert and Moncada — No. 1 overall prospect — the Chicago organization also includes four pitchers counted among MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects — Lucas Giolito (No. 8), Michael Kopech (No. 13), Reynaldo Lopez (No. 40) and Carson Fulmer (No. 64). Catcher Zack Collins is the No. 73 overall prospect.
With the exception of Collins and Fulmer — a 2015 and 2016 first-round pick, respectively — all of those players have come into the system via a pair of trades in the most recent Winter Meetings, as the White Sox aggressively rebuild.
By Josh Jackson