I'm probably not the first person to tell you, but Luis Robert is a true five-tool player. Lots of times you'll hear scouts or fans throw that phrase around a little too casually, but having all five tools is something you just rarely ever see in baseball.
I'm not sure you can convince me that there is a player in the major or minor leagues who owns more raw power than Robert does. If you can, I'd like to see them, and then you'd have to prove to me that they weren't created in a lab. Honestly, after watching Robert for the first of couple weeks of his young career, I'm not sure he wasn't the result of a group of scientists trying to create the perfect baseball player — or athlete.
The most impressive thing about Luis Robert isn't even considered one of the five tools. From the first time I saw him on a major league field, his composure and comfort were apparent.
You'll notice lots of rookie players come up and look overwhelmed, physically or emotionally. Meanwhile, Robert has looked like a seasoned veteran, and he just turned 23.
In our conversation, we talked about when the White Sox first contacted him, and what he liked about the organization from the very beginning. He also told me why it seems like many Cuban players are comfortable as soon as they reach the majors. He gave me some music recommendations, and I gave him some culinary recommendations of my own. Sit back, relax, and enjoy my conversation with the pride of Ciego de Ávila, Cuba, Luis Robert.
(Interview translated through Billy Russo)
Sam Sherman: Can you describe your experience from the first time the White Sox contacted you, to eventually signing with them in 2016?
Luis Robert: It was a short process since the time that I did the tryout for them. I just tried out for them once. Their scout, Marco Paddy, he saw my career in Cuba, and he knew me very well from my time there. From the time I worked out for them to the time I signed it was a pretty short time.
What was the No. 1 thing that drew you to signing with the White Sox?
My trainer, Edgar Mercedes, told me about the teams that were interested in me and my service. When I heard the names, I told him I wanted the White Sox. I wanted the White Sox because I knew the history they have with Cuban players, and I already knew some of the Cuban players that were playing for the team. I knew Moncada, I didn't know Abreu personally, but I knew he was a good guy and a lot of people talked to me about him. For me, it was an easy decision to make.
Is defense always been something that has come natural for you, or is it something you've had to work on?
I've always been a very good defender since I started playing baseball. There was a time in Cuba when I started playing for Ciego de Avila that I wasn't able to play center field, because they already had a center fielder there who had been with the team for a long time. At that time they had put me in left field. That was for for years, and during that time I think that my defense regressed a little bit because playing left field is different, you don't have the same space to run.
Now when I signed with the White Sox and I started playing center field, I started feeling like myself again because that is the position that I like, and that is my natural position. Since the first time I played center, I've been able to show everything I can do there, and I feel more comfortable every day because it's something that comes natural to me.
You have looked very comfortable since you came up to the majors, and it seems like lots of the young players who have come from Cuba have looked the same. Do you think that comfort has anything to do with coming from Cuba, or is that just who you are?
I think we have an advantage because we start playing baseball with fans in the stands since we were kids and we're used to it. I think that puts us in a better position to handle and manage all the noise and crowd, even though now we're playing with no fans. So I think that experiencing that put us in a position to handle all of that in a better way. I started playing with fans in Cuba when I was 16, and you know how the crowd is in Cuba, how important baseball is in Cuba. I think that is the difference and something that put us at an advantage.
From your social media pages, it looked like when you were in the minor leagues, you really enjoyed Domino's Pizza. Now that you're in Chicago, a city that is very serious about their pizza, have you tried any local places yet?
I haven't tried Chicago pizza yet, because I have my uncle here, and he's been cooking for me, so I haven't had the chance yet, but I will.
About Domino's pizza, I think in the minors it was something that for me was the easiest thing to order, and easiest thing to eat. I think that's why I just tried Domino's, I liked it, and I stuck with it.
*I then recommended Luis try Pequod's for deep dish and Jimmy's Pizza Cafe for thin crust*
I am a big music fan, so I always ask my guests for a music recommendation, who can you recommend that you've been listening to lately?
I like Cuban music. The artists I like are Choco and El Chulo.
Thanks again to Luis Robert and to Billy Russo!