Oscar Colas just put the Minors' highest level on notice.
The second-ranked White Sox prospect, who quickly earned a reputation throughout his rookie campaign for displaying brute raw power, hammered a pair of jaw-droppers for his first two long balls at the Triple-A level -- as part of a three-hit night that included a double, four runs scored and three RBIs -- to help muscle Charlotte's 13-11 victory in 10 innings over Jacksonville on Saturday at 121 Financial Ballpark. It was the Cuban native's fourth game with the Knights.
Colas, who signed with Chicago on Jan. 25, opened the year with High-A Winston-Salem. After posting a .311/.369/.475 slash line with seven dingers, three triples, 13 doubles, 42 RBIs and 37 runs scored in 59 games with the Dash, the outfielder was promoted to Double-A Birmingham on July 12. The numbers only improved for the lefty-swinging slugger in the Southern League. Colas batted .306/.364/.563 with 14 homers, 39 runs scored and 33 RBIs over 51 games with the Barons.
After hitting safely in all three of his games since joining the Knights -- collecting four knocks and a walk -- Colas flipped the power switch against the Jumbo Shrimp. The 6-foot-1, 209-pound outfielder led off the game with his first extra-base hit in the International League.
MLB's No. 96 overall prospect came out swinging against Jacksonville starter Aneurys Zabala, fouling off the first pitch before swinging through the next. He did not miss the third offering from the right-hander as he laced a double to left. Three batters later, Colas was plated on a two-RBI double by No. 4 White Sox prospect Lenyn Sosa.
With the Knights trailing in the sixth, 7-6. Colas stepped in against righty reliever George Soriano with Micker Adolfo on first and two outs. Colas took a pair of high pitches before getting a fastball in his sweet spot, middle-in, and he didn't miss it. The ball screamed off his bat at 109 mph and traveled 434 feet to give Charlotte a 9-7 lead.
In the eighth, with the Knights again behind by two runs, Colas faced his third pitcher of the game, Eli Villalobos. The right-hander came right at the 24-year-old and Colas fouled off three straight pitches. After working the count full, Colas saw another heater, this one right down the heart of the plate, and he turned it around at 105 mph. It traveled 405 feet to the concourse walkway in right-center. His solo shot made the score 11-10.
After reaching base on a throwing error by pitcher Robert Garcia in the 10th, Colas scampered home to score Charlotte's final run on a single by Laz Rivera.
The loss eliminated Jacksonville from playoff contention.
Colas played parts of three seasons in Cuba's Serie Nacional as well as three years in Japan's minor Western League and seven games with that nation's big league Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. A dispute with the Hawks led to him being declared a free agent in December 2020, but he elected to wait until January 2022 to sign with the White Sox for $2.7 million. Chicago didn't have enough money left in its 2021 international bonus pool for him, but he was willing to wait to join a Cuban contingent that includes José Abreu, Yasmani Grandal, Yoán Moncada and Luis Robert in the Majors and prospects Yoelqui Céspedes, Norge Vera and Bryan Ramos in the Minors.
Compared to fellow outfielder Céspedes, Colas is considered a better hitter with similar power and less athleticism. He fits the right-field profile nicely with his well-above-average raw power and arm strength. The South Siders believe he can be a solid hitter whose quick left-handed stroke and strength could translate into 30 or more homers on an annual basis.