More than a year ago, a new writer introduced himself by way of an SSS FanPost — this very FanPost. The writer was Trevor Lines, and I quickly asked him to write for South Side Hit Pen, and he’s since traveled with me/us to Sports Illustrated, and now back to South Side Sox. (He also co-hosts our analytics podcast, Dugout Metrics.)
Anyway, with the news of Oscar Colás committing to sign with the White Sox for $2.7 million (half of Chicago’s bonus pool for the period) next January, it seems an apt time to give Trevor’s inaugural piece with us a bump to the big page. If you missed it the first time, enjoy. — Brett
With the White Sox being one of the most active teams in free agency in the 2019-20 offseason, one area that has gone under the radar for most Sox fans is the international prospect market.
The Sox have been behind the eight ball for a few years due to the penalties as a result of exceeding their pool allotment to sign Luis Robert. Starting in the 2017-18 signing period, the new CBA placed a hard cap on international bonus pools for each team, making $26 million bonuses a thing of the past. Generally, smaller market teams are allotted a slightly larger international bonus pool in an effort to maintain competitive balance within baseball. Teams can also trade to acquire more bonus pool space (up to 60% of their total bonus pool allocation).
Obviously out of the market for any big international names in 2017-18 and 2018-19, the White Sox strategy was to pry lesser name prospects from other teams, giving up the majority of their bonus pool money in return. Given the fact that many considered the White Sox system to be “top-heavy,” this was a good strategy to try and backfill the system, hoping that a few of these acquisitions could turn into solid depth pieces. 2019-20 is the first offseason that the Sox are back to a full allotment of bonus pool money.
Yesterday, Jeff Passan broke the news that the next Cuban megaprospect, Oscar Luis Colás, has defected from Cuba and is looking to sign with an MLB team.
Outfielder/pitcher Oscar Colás, one of the best prospects to emerge from Cuba in years, has defected and will seek a deal with a major league team, sources familiar with his plans tell ESPN. Colás, 21, played in Japan last year and hit .302/.350/.516. He’s a LHP up to 95, too.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 3, 2020
As a Sox fan, this immediately sparked my interest, given their prior willingness to spend on Robert, their extensive network in Cuba, and their current roster consisting of many of the top Cuban talents in the MLB. As Passan said, the 21-year-old Colás is a two-way prospect who slashed .302/.350/.516 in Japan in 2019. Scouts are mixed on his ability to pitch, but his fastball has been up to 95 mph from the left side.
There is extremely limited footage of Colás, but from what I could find along with his slash line, Colás is a left-handed power bat. Although it could be way off because I’m judging solely off of a few videos, here is my scouting report.
- Bigger body that is starting to get leaner. Looks better in 2019 footage compared to 2018. MLB average speed (12.0-12.1 seconds) on the triple.
- Swing is still raw. The good: His bat stays in the zone a long time. Raw strength is obvious. Showed ability to drive the ball to opposite field. The bad: Upper/lower body don’t seem to be fully working together. Needs to get front foot down sooner in order to be able to catch up to MLB pitching and catch the ball out in front. Fooled on a BB in one video.
- Has an absolute cannon from the outfield. Would be top-five RF arm in MLB right now. Check out the throw at the end of the first video; momentum taking him to center field, Colás throws a laser to home on the fly to get the runner at the plate.
- No pitching video. Did not pitch in 2019 in Japan, but has been up to 95 mph.
The White Sox have already spent the majority of their pool money for this year on Yolbert Sanchez, Elijah Tatís, and others. However, it looks like Colás will probably wait until after July 2 to sign during the 2020-2021 period. Because some of the smaller market teams are granted more money than the Sox, they will probably have to acquire more bonus pool money in a trade and/or get Colás to take a slightly smaller bonus, which he may be willing to do because of the Cuban connections he would have in the Sox organization.
Overall, any time a hyped Cuban prospect comes along, he should be on Sox fans’ radar. In the coming months, it will be interesting to see how the market shapes up for Colás.
And here’s what we can fill in since Trevor published this on-target piece, originally on site on Jan. 4, 2020. Colás in fact did not sign with the White Sox in this last period, which was highlighted with two Cuban coups, right fielder Yoelqui Céspedes and right-handed starting pitcher Norge Vera. But no sooner had news of those signings (absorbing the majority of Chicago’s 2020-21 money pool) break than we started seeing hints that Colás would wait until the next signing period (January 2022) to sign with ... the White Sox. Colás himself has made those hints, along with countryman and friend Luis Robert.
In fact, this absolute dream scenario looks like it will be working out for the White Sox. The reported $2.7 million bonus eats up a full half of the projected available money the team can spend on international prospects, but to get the top player out in the market, you make that deal every time.
We’ll stay close to any new wrinkles on Francys Romero’s break on this story, either updating here of with a new post.
Oh, and here’s an SB Nation post on Colás that ran just a day after Trevor’s. Hmm.