Louis Robert signed with White Sox in May 2017. He didn’t make his league debut until July 2020.
A lot went into that of course. The last of the COVID-19 pandemic was his opening day with the White Sox last season for a few months. And before that, had the White Sox been at a different stage in the rebuilding process, it might have made its debut sometime in 2019. Also remember that its development has slowed down due to the 2018 season full of injuries.
Regardless of all that, Robert was not signed to be an instant addition to the major league roster.
The same goes for the newest Cuban importer from the White Sox, Yoelqui Céspedes, the highest-rated player in this year’s international free agent category who signed with South Siders on Friday.
But that doesn’t mean the 23-year-old is not close.
“When you talk about a player, you never want to set a schedule when he arrives. But from a baseball point of view, it’s very close,” said Marco Bady, Special Assistant to the General Director of International Operations, Marco Bady. Friday conference call. “He is advanced, he knows how to play the game. Since he was 19 years old, he has been a member of the Cuban national team with a lot of international experience.
“Combined with his Cuban experience, he is very advanced. It’s just a matter of adapting and doing the things he needs to advance. But he’s very close to the big leagues.”
Paddy’s interpretation brought back to mind the White Sox in their last three draft choices in the first round: Nick Madrigal, Andrew Vaughn, and Garrett Crochet. With each selection, the White Sox picked up advanced college players who probably wouldn’t need a lot of little spice in the league and could make a big impact in the league faster than the alternatives.
Madrigal made its debut in 2020, just about two years after it was selected fourth in the 2018 draft, and that would have been less than two years had it not been for the pandemic. Vaughn, the # 3 pick in the 2019 draft, has yet to appear, yet it is already being discussed as a potential daily solution in the White Sox 2021 with the tournament predictions. The famous Crochet debuted just a few months after being drafted with the # 11 pick last summer, defeating the big hitters in the league after not promoting much at all in 2020.
So perhaps Cespides can be looked at similarly, not issuing tickets for major coins right away, but not destined for a long-term stay in the league either. we will see.
“I can’t tell you exactly how close or far I am to the big companies because I’ve never played here. I know baseball, the quality, is higher than the baseball I played in Cuba,” said Cespides, through team translator Billy. Russo on Friday. “But I think, with the time I spent in the palace, I will be able to develop and demonstrate what I can do, and we’ll see how long it will take. But I am confident in myself.”
When envisioning how Céspedes could fit in with the current senior White Sox team members, many of whom have signed long-term contracts, all eyes should be on the right side. While Paddy described Cespides as a natural midfielder on Friday, having Louis Robert there might create some blockage. However, the correct field may soon be vacant.
White Sox signed Adam Eaton a one-year free agent contract this winter with an option for the 2022 season. Who knows if Sispides will be ready for prime time by this time next year, or even two years from now, but Eaton’s contract allows White Sox to Sort things out really well, if things go this way.
Of course, that’s all on the way. But Céspedes was MLB.com’s number one player in the international free agent category for a reason. The White Sox, with their long-term planning still in place, even as they look to chase a championship in 2021, are looking to see it in the main league stadium someday.
“Since I was in Cuba, people have told me that I am a five-tool player, even though I didn’t have much power when I was playing there,” Cespides said. “But now that I’m stronger, I think I’m a pentathlon. That’s what brought me to the White Sox.”