Colás gets warm welcome at White Sox Minor League camp

February 28th, 2022

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Oscar Colás and Yoelqui Céspedes might share an outfield for many years to come with the White Sox.

For now, the Cuban countrymen hold the same goal of simply reaching the Major Leagues. Colás, 23, arrived at Minor League Spring Training on Sunday after agreeing to terms with the White Sox on a $2.7 million deal as a top international prospect. He has started with a pragmatic take on getting to Chicago.

“My goal is to play in the Majors; everybody knows that,” said Colás through interpreter Billy Russo during a Monday Zoom. “But in order to do that, I need to take care of the things that I can take care of. And that is just work hard and do the things that I know that I can do.

“I can’t get too excited or too overwhelmed, thinking, ‘Oh, I need to be in the Majors; I want to be in the Majors.’ The decision is going to be made by the people that make those kinds of decisions.”

After one full day of work, Colás certainly seems under control. The left-handed hitting and -throwing outfielder, once known as the Cuban Ohtani because he also pitched, enjoyed the normal structure of Spring Training workouts and just playing catch or taking swings alongside his teammates.

It’s understandable for Colás to appreciate a basic day-to-day routine, as he has not played organized baseball since 2019, after working professionally in Japan and Cuba. He had been working out in the Dominican Republic in controlled games before signing, and went to the White Sox Dominican Academy after signing, but this present work has a more significant representation.

“Today was the start of my professional career as a baseball player,” Colás said. “It was kind of like a dream come true. Now, it’s on me to perform and do what I really know I can do, being able to reach my dream.”

Colás mentioned possible 2022 starting points of High-A Winston-Salem, Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte, with the first two stops being more realistic because of Colás’ extended break. But the White Sox understand his raw talent they can draw from and develop.

"The most important thing, and we're all aware of it, is not to expect him to come out tomorrow and be at his highest level,” said Marco Paddy, the White Sox special assistant to the general manager, international operations, after Colás signed. “The way you manage the player has a lot to do with the way he makes the progress and how well he advances through our system. Our guys are prepared for that. This is not the first time. It's no different from a guy coming back from an injury.

“They've been there, they've done that. They've seen it. They've handled it before. I have no concerns whatsoever that they're going to handle him in such a way that they'll give him some freedom to do some stuff and then when they have to hold him back, they'll hold him back. It's a controlled type of development that they're going to do with him, but I have no concerns about that.”

Paddy couldn’t or wouldn’t pinpoint Colás’ exact Major League arrival before he reached his debut in Spring Training. But he quickly added Colás already is there mentally.

“He wants to be there,” Paddy said. “He’s going to do whatever it takes to put himself in a situation where he gets ready to advance through our system.”

Tony La Russa introduced himself to Colás on Sunday, and while this is just the beginning for the young outfielder, the White Sox manager delivered the same message his American League Central champs received in 2021: Play hard and don’t feel too comfortable. After one day of workouts at Camelback Ranch, Colás certainly felt at home.

“This is a beautiful complex. I was impressed as soon as I pulled my car into the parking lot,” Colás said. “I said, ‘Wow, this is big.’ And everybody welcomed me with open arms. It was definitely a really nice experience. Everything is beautiful here. I felt really good today with the boys.

“Just the competition between us and just being able to challenge ourselves. It was something that I was missing. I felt really good today with it. The atmosphere was good. It was good.”