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White Sox Set to Sign Cuban Prospect Oscar Colas

The White Sox are expected to officially sign Cuban defector Oscar Colas when the international signing period opens on Jan. 15.
Oscar Colas Chicago White Sox

Photo: colas_oscar/Instagram

This weekend, the White Sox will add some much-needed talent to their depleted farm system when they announce the signing of 23-year-old Cuban defector, Oscar Colas. Colas, formerly dubbed the "Cuban Ohtani", will join the Sox organization strictly in a corner outfield capacity.

This "news" has been one of the worst-kept developments in the industry since the Cuban was granted free agency by MLB in December of 2020 after a brief stint playing in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball. The deal is expected to be worth $2.7 million of the White Sox international signing pool.

Delayed Arrival

Colas's desire to sign with an MLB organization dates all the way back to early 2020 when he formally sought release from his contract with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of NPB. However, the club was unwilling to grant the release from his contract until December of 2020.

Given the late timing and altered international signing period due to the pandemic, Colas wasn't eligible to sign in the previous international period. Once the determination was made that his signing wouldn't be allowed by MLB until this coming Saturday, the White Sox immediately became the favorites to land the former two-way player and continue their rich pipeline of Cuban talent dating back well over 70 years at this point.

It is unclear whether Colas will begin his White Sox tenure in stateside affiliated ball or with the team's Dominican Summer League club. This situation is similar to that of Luis Robert following his signing back in May of 2017, directly resulting from US tax codes. Should Colas spend 2022 in the DSL, it would delay a potential arrival to the corner of 35th/Shields. Scouts believe he will need a few seasons of minor-league seasoning before he would be ready to help the White Sox during their contention window.

What Are The Sox Getting?

The club is getting the No. 5 international prospect, a player whose carrying tool is plus raw power from the left side of the plate. Profiled as a corner outfielder, should he reach his upside, Colas could potentially provide some clarity to a long-standing area of need for the Sox. But again, don't anticipate his arrival until 2024 or 2025.

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Previously a two-way player in Cuba's Serie Nacional and Japan's NPB, Colas will focus solely on outfield work upon joining the White Sox organization. Colas's last significant game action came while playing in the Japan Western League, a minor league to NPB. During his stint with Fukuoka's farm club, he slashed .302/.350/.516 with 11 home runs in 66 games. However, he did have a 22.3% K rate. The question will be, has he had time to make changes to his swing since his last significant game action over two years ago?

Since being granted free-agent status by MLB, Colas has not been shy about updating his progress on social media platforms, most notably his Instagram account. Recent photos show a significantly trimmer player that looks the part of a power-hitting corner outfielder.

His physical maturity at this point doesn't leave much in the room of projection, so it will be all about his production once he comes stateside and how well he can adjust to pitchers in affiliated ball.

Talent Injection

As of last August, MLB.com ranked the White Sox as having the worst farm system in the league. This is largely a result of prospect graduations and an unwillingness to be imaginative with their draft and international pools during the rebuild (I had to get that in). But adding Colas and Erick Hernandez during the international period will inject some much-needed talent. This is important because the Sox will need to reinvigorate their system if they want to have an extensive window of contention.

Colas will be the big name entering the system, following in the footsteps of previously signed Cubans Yoelqui Cespedes and Norge Vera. However, he comes with possibly the most notoriety. How quickly Colas is able to get stateside and become acclimated to affiliated ball will be fascinating to watch in the coming years. But fans shouldn't go penciling this guy into their 2023 lineup projections, which makes the need to address right field once the lockout ends all the more important.

Colas represents a high-upside player and another potential Cuban star to add to the franchise's rich history of talent from the island. His development will require some patience, however. Not seeing significant game action in two years will be a major hurdle for the already 23-year-old. It is certainly exciting to add a player with the raw ability that Oscar Colas possesses to a thin system, but visions of him making an impact in the near term for a team looking to win a World Series simply aren't realistic.

The charade is finally coming to an end this weekend, and Oscar Colas will officially be a member of the White Sox organization. It's an exciting development coming at a particular time when little else is happening on the baseball landscape.