Luis Robert the latest high-end acquisition for White Sox

Luis Robert the latest high-end acquisition for White Sox

PHOENIX -- The White Sox rebuild has another significant addition in Luis Robert, one general manager Rick Hahn won’t discuss until the deal is final.

But that didn’t stop the White Sox general manager from dropping a massive hint during Monday’s media session at Chase Field. As he discussed each aspect of player acquisition, Hahn briefly and, it would seem purposely, paused when he brought up international prospects. Hahn said he’s pleased with how much talent the White Sox have accumulated in the last 11 months only two days after club signed Robert. While Robert is yet another critical piece to the team’s future, Hahn again suggested the White Sox are only part way through the process.

“We were obviously thrilled with the draft last year and we’re getting ready to hopefully repeat that in the coming weeks,” Hahn said. “We’ve been able to do some things internationally that, umm, nice additions to the system potentially. And the last several trades we’ve done have put us in a stronger position as an organization.

“But we’re pleased with what we’ve been able to do in the last 10-11 months (and) we know we’ve got to repeat that over the next 10-11 again to put ourselves in the position we want to be in for the long term.”

Robert is just the latest puzzle piece that the White Sox have added. Hahn started to scoop up high-end talent last June with the additions of Zack Collins, Zack Burdi and others in the amateur draft. Each of the team’s first five selections was listed in Baseball America’s top-10 White Sox prospect list when it was first issued in November. But that list was totally overhauled when the White Sox added seven more prospects in December with the trades of Adam Eaton and Chris Sale.

The addition of Robert (pronounced Robber), who could be ranked the No. 3 prospect in the White Sox farm system, is the latest big piece. He potentially gives the White Sox another big bat in the future, one that was needed as many of the recent additions have been pitchers.

The White Sox also hold the 11th overall pick in June’s draft and are hopeful for another bountiful draft class. They expect to hold a high pick in the 2018 draft as well.

And that doesn’t count the young talent they could add later this summer when the White Sox begin to sell off more pieces around the Aug. 1 trade deadline. Though the club has outperformed expectations with its 20-22 start, Hahn has always maintained the club is focused on the big picture. That view would appear to include Hahn picking up his mobile phone often over the next few months.

“We’ve received a lot of phone calls because of the talent on this roster,” Hahn said. “We’re remaining very open-minded about whatever opportunities make us better for the long run. Our focus is on doing something that’s more sustainable than one season. We’re in the same mode we were in this past offseason, looking for opportunities to find some long-term pieces to put us in a place to contend on annual basis.

“It’s gotta fit for the long term. That’s sort of the same approach for the entire offseason that was build something for the future. Some of it you’re seeing here in 2017 and some of it’s going to take a little longer.”

'White Sox Cornerstones' specials air tonight on CSN

'White Sox Cornerstones' specials air tonight on CSN

The White Sox tout one of baseball's best farm systems, and CSN is taking you behind the scenes of those teams and top prospects with our latest Original Production.

White Sox Cornerstones: Charlotte and White Sox Cornerstones: Birmingham & Winston-Salem, presented by Ozinga, will air back-to-back tonight at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on CSN. You can also catch a live stream of both airings right here via the NBC Sports app.

White Sox Cornerstones: Charlotte will provide viewers a look at some of the brightest young stars in the game, including baseball's top prospect Yoan Moncada. The 21-year-old Moncada is batting .333 with six home runs and 13 RBIs in 33 games and was recently named the International League Player of the Week. We sit down with Moncada to discuss his development as a player, as well as his relationship with White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu.

The Knights also tout top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito, as well as pitchers Carson Fulmer, Zack Burdi and Reynaldo Lopez. Burdi and Fulmer will "walk to work" with CSN and discuss their mentality leading up to a game, what it means to be part of a rebuild and how their Charlotte teammates remain competitive even off the field.

You'll also hear from White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, Knights manager Mark Grudzielanek and Knights pitching coach Steve McCatty.

Then stay tuned in for White Sox Cornerstones: Birmingham & Winston-Salem as we ride the bus with the Birmingham Barons following their road win over the Montgomery Biscuits. The 90-minute bus ride includes interviews with No. 3 prospect Michael Kopech, who is 2-2 with a 3.06 ERA in 2017. The 21-year-old who came over with Moncada in the Chris Sale deal this past winter has struck out 51 batters in 35.1 innings. Kopech discusses his obsession with being the best and his thoughts on being a part of the White Sox rebuild.

We'll also travel to Salem, Virginia as the White Sox square off against the Salem Red Sox. CSN will sit down with No. 6 prospect Zack Collins and pitcher Tanner Banks. Collins discusses his thoughts on becoming the catcher of the future on Chicago's South Side.

You'll also hear from propsects Luis Alexander Basabe, Dane Dunning, Spencer Adams and manager Willie Harris, among others.

Video pitch helps White Sox sign potential cornerstone Luis Robert to loaded farm system

Video pitch helps White Sox sign potential cornerstone Luis Robert to loaded farm system

The White Sox have reportedly already added a first-round draft pick and it isn’t even June.

According to multiple reports, the team’s rebuild added a potential cornerstone as Cuban free agent outfielder Luis Robert has agreed to sign a deal that would force the White Sox to heavily exceed their 2016-17 international signing bonus pool.

Believed to be the equivalent of a high first-round draft pick, Robert, 19, reportedly has accepted a deal worth more than $25 million from the White Sox. Another key addition to the team’s ongoing rebuild, Robert likely would be the No. 3 prospect in an extremely talented White Sox farm system behind Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech.

It is believed that the other team vying for Robert, 19, the St. Louis Cardinals, offered the outfielder more money. 

While Robert’s deal is reportedly worth $25-30 million, the club’s cost will be double whatever the final amount is as they must pay an equivalent tax to Major League Baseball for going over their allotted amount.

White Sox officials didn't comment on the signing on Saturday. But shortly after word got out, the White Sox made a move that signals the Robert deal is close to final. They announced the trade of minor-league pitcher Alex Katz to the Baltimore Orioles for two international signing bonus slots worth $756,300. The move helps the club offset some of the penalty tax they will pay for exceeding their original bonus pool of $2,973,500, according to Baseball America.

By exceeding their pool, the White Sox also would forfeit the ability to sign any international amateurs for more than $300,000 in each of the next two years. But the thinking is that few international players in those upcoming classes would have the same sort of potential impact as quickly as Robert, who is more advanced than normal international prospects.

[MORE: Report - White Sox, Cuban outfielder Luis Robert agree to $25 million deal]

In many cases, international prospects are signed when they’re 16 or 17 years old, which means they still have a growth period left and are harder to project. At 19, Robert already stands at 6-foot-3, 175 pounds. He also is experienced, having played four seasons in the Cuban National Series. Last year, Robert his .401/.526/.687 with 12 home runs and 40 RBIs in 232 plate appearances for Ciego de Avila.

While word of the signing didn’t leak until around 1 p.m. CST, Robert had signaled his intentions in the final hours that he indeed was headed to the White Sox. The prospect changed the avatar on his Instagram account to a new picture with him wearing a White Sox hat.

It is believed that Robert was extremely impressed by the White Sox, who made a presentation to accompany his live workout for the team. General manager Rick Hahn and executive vice president Kenny Williams attended the workout. But the team also presented Robert with a video narrated in Spanish by manager Rick Renteria that included testimonials from fellow Cubans Jose Abreu and Moncada urging Robert to join them in Chicago.

Robert is yet another talented addition to a White Sox farm system that has rocketed up the rankings, according to Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and MLB Pipeline, among others.

The team added Moncada and Kopech as well as No. 8 prospect Luis Basabe in a 4-for-1 deal for Chris Sale in December. A day later, the White Sox added top prospects Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez as well as Dane Dunning (who is expected to move up the charts) in exchange for Adam Eaton.

The trades netted the White Sox seven prospects and came on the heels of what looks to be a strong 2016 draft class. The White Sox added catcher Zack Collins, reliever Zack Burdi, outfielders Alex Call and Jameson Fisher, and starter Alec Hansen in the first four rounds. Before the December trades, all five were listed among Baseball America’s top-10 White Sox prospect list.