Luis Alexander Basabe’s roommate received a phone call on the road on July 9 in which he learned he had been traded by the Boston Red Sox. What would be a strange experience for most teammates was even more difficult for Basabe and his.
The player traded was his identical twin brother, Luis Alejandro Basabe.
“I was like, ‘Man, I don’t believe that,’ ” Luis Alexander Basabe said.
Nearly five months later, Luis Alexander received a similar call from the Red Sox to inform him he was included in a four-player package headed to the White Sox in exchange for five-time All-Star Chris Sale. Having already experienced the trade of a brother he describes as younger (by five minutes), shorter and weaker, Basabe wasn’t rattled.
While he later found that acclimating to a new organization was "weird" at first, Basabe said he already feels at home with the White Sox. The center fielder currently has a 10-game hitting streak and is slashing .260/.351/.400 with four stolen bases in 58 plate appearances for Single-A Winston-Salem.
“So far everything has been very good,” Basabe said. “When (my trade) first happened it didn’t feel weird or anything because it was in the offseason.
“I felt a little more comfortable because I had been through it with my brother. But I know it’s a business and no matter where I go I’ve got to do my job and play the way I do.
“ ‘Yeah, that’s all right. I don’t care because I’m here with a chance.’ ”
Plentiful opportunity is potentially there with the White Sox.
The No. 8-ranked prospect in the organization, according to MLBPipeline.com and Baseball America, Basabe, 20, has all the tools needed to be a top-notch defensive outfielder. His speed and arm are both graded at 60 on the 20-80 scout scale and his fielding rates at 55. Basabe’s manager thinks he has everything necessary to play a critical spot.
“He’s a true center fielder to me,” Winston-Salem manager Willie Harris said. “Speed, arm. It’s still a little early to tell if he’s going to hit. Who knows? But from the defensive side of the game, he knows what’s going on. He’s going to learn as he goes on and he’s going to be very, very good.”
Everything may come down to whether or not the switch-hitting Basabe performs at the plate. His hit tool grades at 45, according to MLB Pipeline, which is more in line with the bat of a fourth outfielder.
But so far the White Sox are optimistic Basabe can make the proper adjustment.
“He’s got a sweet swing,” White Sox hitting coordinator Mike Gellinger said. “He’s got a timing thing to handle. But he’ll get it and it should be very helpful.”
The biggest help will be repetitions. Basabe spent almost the entire 2016 season at Single-A Greenville in the South Atlantic League. Only at the end of the season was he promoted to Advanced-A Salem in the Carolina League, the same league he’s in now.
“He’s got a little bit of everything,” player development director Chris Getz said. “He can run, he has the ability to hit and he’s aggressive on the bases.
“He’s still only 20 and he’s had some success. But we feel the more at-bats he gets he’s going to be successful.”
Despite that young age, Basabe, whom his parents call “Chande”, and his twin, “Jandro”, have already learned about the harsh realities of baseball. They had just arrived at the ballpark to play the Lexington Legends that night when Greenville manager Darren Fenster summoned Luis Alejandro to his office with the news of his trade to the Arizona Diamondbacks. He would be assigned to Single-A Kane County.
“It was at 2 p.m. and the manager called my brother outside to come talk to him,” Luis Alexander said. “And then he told me ‘They traded me.’ ‘Really?’
“But then, (you learn) it really was a business and he got more chance over there.”