White Sox phenom Robert rips 1st HR
CHICAGO -- Luis Robert’s first weekend as a Major Leaguer played out better than the White Sox first weekend of the 2020 season against the defending American League Central champions from Minnesota.
The No. 3 prospect overall, per MLB Pipeline, launched his first career home run Sunday afternoon during a Twins 14-2 victory at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Robert collected a hit in all three games of the series. He drew his first career walk leading off the seventh inning Sunday, but it was his connection on the first pitch of a fifth-inning at-bat against Twins right-hander Kenta Maeda that left more of a lasting impression.
Robert drove home Adam Engel, who had doubled to open the inning. His blast traveled 419 feet to center, had an exit velocity of 111.4 mph and had an .830 expected batting average.
"As soon as I hit the ball, I knew that I had made solid contact,” Robert said through interpreter Billy Russo. “I definitely feel good just to have the first one out of the way. It's a relief. I feel good, and I know there's going to be more to come."
Aside from that drive and three hits from Engel, there wasn’t much good news for the home squad. Minnesota scored four runs in the first inning on Jake Cave’s grand slam off of Reynaldo López and added five more in the second off of Gio González.
López left the game in the first with right shoulder tightness, and left fielder Eloy Jiménez left in the second with light-headedness. Jiménez ran into the left-field wall chasing Cave’s slam. Both players will be re-evaluated before the White Sox road opener Monday at Cleveland.
Minnesota’s offense put up 10 runs on Friday in a victorious effort, and after the White Sox answered with a 10-3 victory Saturday behind Dallas Keuchel, the Twins finished the series in style. There’s no question the Twins are the team to beat in the AL Central, but White Sox manager Rick Renteria does not believe the White Sox are that far behind.
"Should we pitch as I believe we can, and certainly if all our offensive pieces are healthy and we're able to get them out there, I think we will fare well against them,” Renteria said. “We have a chance to compete against them, certainly.
“I don't sell my guys short. I think we have an opportunity here to continue to grow as a young club and be competitive, and be competitive against the best."
One of Renteria’s main reasons behind his positive thinking has to be Robert. The 22-year-old not only was an exit velocity machine this weekend, but he showed an easy glide while covering ground defensively in center and the same quickness around the bases.
And Robert is just getting started.
“I've been feeling good at home plate, good in the outfield, good with the team,” Robert said. “I'm feeling pretty comfortable at this level. If I have to make an adjustment when I need to, I will do it. So far I've been feeling very good and comfortable.
“Even though I was with the team in Spring Training and I had the chance to play some exhibition games, it's different. And I learned how to play at this level, how you have to play at this level. It was a good experience and put me in a good position for what is coming this season and in the future."