Robert produces a grand Triple-A debut

Top White Sox prospect homers twice during seven-RBI night

Luis Robert has hit a career-high 18 homers and is batting .353 with a 1.040 OPS this season. (Laura Wolff/Charlotte Knights)

By Michael Avallone / | July 12, 2019 1:00 AM

It took two official at-bats for Luis Robert to serve notice he had arrived in the International League. In case anyone missed it, he sent a not-so-subtle reminder two innings later.

The top White Sox prospect hit a pair of homers -- including his first professional grand slam -- and finished with a career-high seven RBIs in his Triple-A debut as Charlotte outlasted Gwinnett, 15-12, at BB&T Ballpark.

Video: Robert launches grand slam

It was the second multi-homer game of the season and career for Robert, who went deep twice on Opening Night for Class A Advanced Winston-Salem.

The Havana, Cuba, native jumped into his debut with a flyout to right field on the first pitch he saw in the first inning. His sacrifice fly to right in the second evened the score, 2-2, which was a precursor to the fireworks to come.

With two runs in and the bags juiced in the third, Robert hit a no-doubter over the fence in left-center field. He cleared the fence in left-center again in the fifth after Trey Michalczewski's two-run shot and stroked an RBI single to center in his next at-bat. He was retired on a comebacker in his final at-bat in the eighth.

Gameday box score

"Ever since I got to Double-A, all the guys talked about was how the ball didn't travel much," Robert said through Knights coach and translator Anthony Santiago. "They told me, 'Don't worry. Wait until you get to Charlotte and see how the ball travels there.' Thank God, today I had a good game. I want to keep working hard and try to get better every day."

Robert has batted .353/.402/.637 with 45 extra-base hits, 66 runs, 60 RBIs and 29 stolen bases in 76 games across three levels this season. The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder entered 2019 with three career home runs in 270 at-bats -- all coming in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League in 2017. He's gone deep 18 times in 306 at-bats this year.

Video: Charlotte's Robert homers a second time

In the midst of an eye-popping season that vaulted him to's No. 5 overall prospect, Robert earned his second promotion of 2019 when he was assigned to Charlotte on Saturday. The move came a day before he appeared in the All-Star Futures Game in Cleveland, where he went hitless in four at-bats.

The layoff between game action didn't seem to hurt Robert. Besides his Futures Game participation, the 21-year-old had not played since hitting a homer in three at-bats last Friday for Double-A Birmingham. His final game with the Barons left him with a .314/.362/.518 slash line, 27 extra-base hits and 29 RBIs in 56 Southern League contests. Those figures don't include his MVP performance in the circuit's All-Star game last month. He tripled, doubled and drove in two runs.

Robert was eager after the game to get a different perspective of his debut.

"I'm very excited to get to my phone to see what everybody's talking about and to see videos of the home runs and everything else," he said. "I want a chance to see what I actually did."

Danny Mendick doubled and equaled his personal best with four hits and scored three times for Charlotte, which withstood several rallies from Gwinnett.

2019 MiLB include

Matt Foster (4-1) surrendered a hit and struck out two in a scoreless frame out of the bullpen to pick up the win.

Alex Jackson led the charge offensively for the Stripers. The No. 22 Braves prospect went 4-for-5 with two roundtrippers, a double and a career-high six RBIs. It was the second multi-homer game in nine contests for the 23-year-old catcher, who produced his third four-hit game and the first since June 21, 2018 with Double-A Mississippi.

Rafael Ortega matched Jackson with a season-best four hits and Jack Lopez finished 3-for-4 with a homer, walk and two RBIs.

Gwinnett starter Bryse Wilson (4-7) endured the worst start of his career. Atlanta's No. 5 prospect surrendered nine runs on eight hits and three walks with two strikeouts in a season-low 2 2/3 innings. The right-hander threw a wild pitch and hit a batter.

Michael Avallone is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @MavalloneMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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