Before I began capturing video and writing about Cuban baseball, my photos connected me with the Cuban baseball community. Some of my early photos were the first to circulate as the internet was in it’s naissance. I have had the good fortune to return many times and capture the Cuban National Team in Canada as well. Join me in a new series where I share some of my favourite photos and tell the Stories of some of Cuba’s best players. Today let’s look at White Sox Luis Robert Through My Lens.
I first saw Luis Robert a few years before he signed the last big International signing period contract. I would love to say he stood out over everyone else. Or that I predicted what was to come on that January 2016 day. But at the least I had the sense to capture a few shots of him. Following the National Series was much tougher just a few a short years ago. Keeping track of upstart teenagers was even tougher. Robert was in the midst of his breakout season. The Tigres would go on to win the title not long after my visit. One of the few highlights circulating from his time in Cuba is of him taking Noelvis Entenza deep. I was at this game, unfortunately I wasn’t shooting the batters of Ciego at that point in the game. I’ll try not to make that mistake again.
Robert would stand out the next time I saw him. He would be the starting centre fielder for Team Cuba when they toured the CanAm League later in 2016. He stood out as up close he was a different type of athlete than the average Cuban Ball player, tall, wirey and lithe. Unfortunately the Cuban bats including Robert disappointed in the series in Canada’s capital. I don’t envy professional scouts especially in the Cuban scouting game. Trying to assess a player on such a small sample size is not easy. With Robert the bet was on his obvious tools and experience in an advanced league at a young age. The Chicago White Sox were willing to bet $26 million on the player and another $26 million in taxes to try and unlock Luis Robert and his tools.
Robert would make his way stateside in 2017 and methodically make his way through the White Sox minor league system. His breakout would come in 2019. He was named the Minor League Player of the year in going 30-30 across three levels. Most of his damage was dealt at Triple A. I had the opportunity to get inside the dugout and photograph him with the Charlotte Knights as they visited Buffalo.
Luis was starting to grow into his body and his immense set of tools by this point. He would hit two home runs and a triple in the game. Everything was executed with ease. He was fooled early by breaking pitches in multiple at bats but stood in and adjusted to go for extra bases. The projections for Luis Robert have grown lofty but if he continues on his current path of progress I think we are looking at a generational talent.