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Robert knocks twice in White Sox debut

No. 3 overall prospect collects pair of hits in first MLB game
Luis Robert on Friday set the record for the highest exit velocity on a first Major League hit. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
July 25, 2020

The legend of Luis Robert that grew in Summer Camp was on full display in a Major League game Friday.'s No. 3 overall prospect recorded a double and a single in his big league debut as the White Sox dropped a 10-5 decision to the Twins at Guaranteed Rate

The legend of Luis Robert that grew in Summer Camp was on full display in a Major League game Friday.'s No. 3 overall prospect recorded a double and a single in his big league debut as the White Sox dropped a 10-5 decision to the Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field. The 22-year-old also struck out and flied to right field in four at-bats.

"It was exciting. It was a little bittersweet because we lost today and you always want the team to win. That's what we play for. I think we did a decent job," Robert told reporters through team interpreter Billy Russo after the game. "Our offense did good. We came back, tied the game and kept fighting, kept battling. We did what we could. We showed what we can do today, our offense."

Each of Robert's knocks was struck well, if evidenced simply by the thunderous clap that echoed through the mostly empty stadium. But further examination of that hard contact put his name in the Statcast record books. Robert already has plans for a special place in his house to put the ball he annihilated at 115.8 mph into left field for his first Major League hit. It was the highest exit velocity on a first hit by any player in the Statcast era (post 2015), shattering Nate Lowe's previous record of 113.3 mph from last April.

"I kept my approach today. I went to every at-bat, trying to make solid contact. I got the pitches to hit and I did it," Robert said.

The top White Sox prospect served a double into the gap in right-center off Cody Stashak with two outs in the eighth. That one left the bat at 103.5 mph and bounced just before the wall. Nicky Delmonico left Robert stranded when he popped out to third.

Perhaps it was his opponent, Max Kepler, who set the tone with a homer off Lucas Giolito on the game's first pitch, but Robert was aggressive at the plate all night. He swung at 11 of the 13 pitches he saw, connecting for his single on the first he saw in the Majors, a hook from Jose Berrios, and again at each of Stashak's five offerings in the eighth.

"I went into that [fourth] at-bat with the mindset to be more aggressive. I fell behind, 0-2, and then I fouled off two pitches and then I was able to hit that fastball that he threw me. I think I hit it well," Robert said.

"With two strikes, I tried to just make contact with the ball and go to the opposite field, just try to simplify my swing. And that's what I did."

The White Sox paid a hefty price -- $52 million in total with $26 million going to Robert and an equal amount paid as penalty for exceeding their international bonus pool -- to bring the Cuba native to the organization in 2017. But he's continued to reward their faith.

"It's very easy to see why the White Sox are so excited to have him out there. He appears in every way to float around out there in the outfield and moves very well," Twins skipper Rocco Baldelli told reporters after the game. "You can see the way he's shooting balls to right-center field and hitting off-speed pitches and staying on them, this guy has real talent."

Robert tore through three levels of the Minors last year, batting .328 with 32 homers, 92 RBIs and a 1.001 OPS. His success forced Chicago to bet big on him again in January when the two sides agreed on a six-year extension that could run up to $88 million in value.

With the spot on the Opening Day roster all but secured, the young outfielder put together an excellent spring, batting .333/.381/.564 with six extra-base hits and four RBIs in 14 Cactus League games. His daily highlight-reel performances over the past few weeks of Summer Camp added to the anticipation of his debut.

Also making his debut for the White Sox on Friday was Codi Heuer, the club's 27th-ranked prospect. The 24-year-old right-hander retired the side in order in the ninth, striking out All-Star catcher Mitch Garver.

Astros 8, Mariners 2

After hitting six long balls in 71 Major League at-bats last year, 10th-ranked Mariners prospect Kyle Lewis went deep again in his first trip to the plate in 2020. Facing Justin Verlander in the second inning, the center fielder blasted a 1-0 pitch onto the train tracks in left field at Minute Maid Park for a 438-foot blast. M's No. 4 prospect Evan White, outfielder Jose Marmolejos and reliever Anthony Misiewicz all made their first big league appearances, setting the Mariners' club record for players to debut in one game. White collected his first hit on an infield single in the ninth, Marmolejos went hitless and Misiewicz allowed a run on two hits with one strikeout in one inning. Fourth-ranked Astros prospect Abraham Toro entered in the sixth as a pinch-hitter and doubled, walked and scored a run. Making their debuts, No. 27 Houston prospect Blake Taylor pitched a perfect eighth and 13th-ranked Enoli Paredes worked around White’s infield hit in a scoreless ninth. Box score

Rangers 1, Rockies 0

Rangers No. 25 prospect Jonathan Hernández helped bridge the gap to closer Jose Leclerc in the club's 1-0 win. Hernandez yielded a single and a walk but stranded the pair of runners by striking out Charlie Blackmon and Daniel Murphy to secure the scoreless eighth inning. The 24-year-old appeared in nine games for the big league club last year. Third-ranked Texas prospect Leody Taveras made his MLB debut in center field as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning. Rockies No. 9 prospect Sam Hilliard struck out in all of his four at-bats, but he saved a run with a diving catch on a liner off the bat of Todd Frazier in the sixth. Box score

Dodgers 9, Giants 1

No. 13 Giants prospect Jaylin Davis made the most of his 2020 debut, going deep in his first at-bat. Leading off the third inning against Ross Stripling, he worked the count to 2-2 before sending a fastball out to the opposite field in right . Acquired from the Twins before the Trade Deadline last July, Davis hit 35 Minor League roundtrippers and one in a 17-game stint in the Majors. Box score

Indians 2, Royals 0

In his Major League debut, Royals No. 29 prospect Tyler Zuber worked around a walk and faced the minimum in two innings of scoreless relief. The 25-year-old right-hander posted a 1.79 ERA with 58 strikeouts in 55 1/3 innings between Class A Advanced Wilmington and Double-A Northwest Arkansas last year. Although he's gotten more fly ball contact through his professional career, Zuber recorded five of six outs on the ground. Box score

Mets 1, Braves 0

Andres Gimenez, MLB Pipeline's No. 84 overall prospect, made his big league debut on defense over the last two innings. The 21-year-old replaced veteran Robinson Canó at second base, a position at which he'd logged 132 2/3 innings as a pro. He was up to the task on both grounders hit in his direction. Box score

Padres 7, D-backs 2

Although it ended up turning into a difficult outing, D-backs No. 27 prospect Kevin Ginkelrecorded a pair of strikeouts in his seventh-inning relief appearance. Unfortunately, those were the only outs he registered while yielding four runs on three hits and a pair of walks. The 26-year-old righty was victimized by Eric Hosmer's huge night and was pulled after allowing a three-run double to the All-Star first baseman. Box score

Gerard Gilberto_ is a contributor to Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @Gerard_Gilberto._