Luis Robert may not be the top prospect in baseball, for either real life or Fantasy, but he should be the first one on your draft boards for 2020. Robert was one of the most hyped international prospects in recent years, and after scuffling through some injury-plagued seasons, he showed what the hype was all about in a breakout 2019 that pushed him all the way to the precipice of the majors. After signing a long-term contract this offseason, he'll be in the White Sox lineup on opening day.
Numbers to Know
- Date of Birth: 8/3/1997
- Height: 6'3"
- Weight: 185 lb.
- Prospect Ranks: No. 2 at Baseball America, No. 3 at MLB Pipeline, No. 6 at Baseball Prospectus.
- Scott White's Rank: No. 2 Fantasy prospect
- 2019 Stats (A+, AA, AAA): 122 G, .328/.376/.624, 32 HR, 74 XBH, 36 SB (76.6%), 5.1 BB%, 23.4% K%
- Career: 200 G, .312/.381/.551, 35 HR, 100 XBH, 63 SB (77.8%), 7.1 BB%, 23.4 K%
Known Injury History
Missed time with knee, thumb, hand, ankle, and hamstring injuries in 2018
Robert has all of the tools, starting with incredible athleticism that makes him a stolen base threat every time he gets on base and plus raw power. That raw power played up in 2019 thanks to some small tweaks to his swing that allowed him to generate more loft. Good things happen when Robert hits the ball, and that should allow him to maintain a healthy batting average even if he strikes out more than league average, which seems likely. He showed improvement in laying off bad pitches in 2019, and perhaps most impressively didn't see a spike in strikeout rate despite making it to Triple-A as a 21-year-old with just 150 or so games under his belt as a professional.
It wouldn't be fair to say Robert's hit tool is lagging, but his approach at the plate isn't ideal. It's hard to find a recent prospect ranked as highly as Robert who struck out nearly five times more than he walked in his final minor-league season, so there has to be some concern that he might be a bit overwhelmed by major-league stuff. That shouldn't be a death knell, but it may hold him back, especially early on like it did with Javier Baez. I'm also a bit concerned Robert may not steal as much as many Fantasy players and analysts are hoping — both Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada slowed their steals pace considerably upon making it to the majors.
"If there is one ephemeral worry surrounding Robert it is that old demons could crop up when he is faced with top shelf breaking stuff, and that this could dampen his hit tool a bit. Still, he's shown the aptitude to make adjustments when necessary and is strong enough everywhere else that the profile can overcome a slight lag in his fifth tool. At this time, it is a very select group of prospects we'd take over this cat." – Ben Spanier, BaseballProspectus.com
Baez might have showed a bit more game power and a bit less hit tool than Robert did in the minors, but he feels like a pretty good comp, given the plate discipline issues both have. Don't be surprised if Robert scuffles just a bit in his first taste of the majors, as a result. However, at his best, Baez has been pretty close to an elite Fantasy option despite striking out out five times more than he walks, and it's not unreasonable to think Robert could swipe more than Baez's career-high of 21 in an upside scenario.
Fantasy Bottom Line
I went deep on the questions I have for Robert earlier in the offseason, and those concerns remain. However, I have softened my stance a bit on him being overvalued at his current ADP inside of the top-100, if only because at some point you've gotta take a big swing on a guy like Robert. This could be the last time he's available for that cheap until the 2030s. Robert's most likely outcome probably sees him disappointing Fantasy players at least a little bit in 2020, and the worst-case scenario sees him going back down to the minors for a spell. However, if it all comes together right away, Robert could pretty easily return top-20 value in 2020.
So which sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which undervalued first baseman can help you win a championship? Visit SportsLine now to get rankings for every single position, all from the model that called Kenta Maeda's huge breakout last season, and find out.