Mystery Still Surrounds Robert's Promotion Timeline

By 670 The Score
CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- With September roster expansion just more than a week away, mystery surrounds the White Sox's plan for top prospect Luis Robert.

The White Sox are playing out the string as they entered play Thursday at 57-69, while the 22-year-old Robert continues to crush opposing pitchers at Triple-A Charlotte. He's hitting .310 with 13 homers and a 1.028 OPS in 36 games at Triple-A. That's only the latest in what's been a sensation minor league season for Robert, as he's hitting .336 with 29 homers, 85 RBIs, a 1.022 OPS and 36 steals in 111 games across three levels this year. He opened the season at advanced Class-A.

Robert is ranked as the No. 5 prospect in the game by MLB Pipeline.

"I just got back from watching the Charlotte club," general manager Rick Hahn said. "He is doing fantastic. You have seen the numbers. There are certainly some elements of his game they are still fine-tuning and working on. We have made no decisions on the call-up list (for September) or the ultimate call-up list. We will have to make a list soon about who we decide to call up."

The question of whether Robert or any star prospect is ready for the big leagues is almost always accompanied by service-time considerations. If the White Sox call up Robert this season, they'll have him under team control through 2025. If they wait until mid-April next spring to promote him, they'll control him through 2026. It's the choice the Cubs faced in 2015, when third baseman Kris Bryant was sent to Triple-A to open the season despite a monster spring. He was called up less than two weeks into the regular season.

"With Luis, he has already exceeded what we would have considered an outstanding season for him," Hahn said. "Whether we decide to add a fourth level for him this year, that wasn't really on the table when we left Glendale in March. A successful season reaching Double-A would have been considered a success. Sometimes the really good ones force your hands a little bit. At the start of the season, that was a slim chance to think he would be where he is at."

It's likely that Robert will remain with Charlotte for as long as the team is in the playoffs. Then will come a moment of truth.

"Any time you are here (in the big leagues), you cannot replicate it," manager Rick Renteria said of what goes into a decision to promote a star prospect like Robert. "One of the things is the emotional impact it has on a player when they get to the major leagues. The other is the talent of the player and the way it is executed. When you get younger guys here, you understand there may be a little blip or stumble. It's nice if they get that experience, because you cannot get it anywhere else."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.