Oscar Cola’s pitching ended, will focus on outfield work with White Sox

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The White Sox’s long-awaited deal with the Cuban slugger Oscar Colas became official earlier this month when he agreed to a $2.7 million signing bonus as international free agency opened. Notably, while there was talk that Colas, 23, would work as a two-way, he has made it clear since signing that he will work as a full-field outfielder with the White Sox (link via NBC Sports Chicago’s Vinnie Duber ).

“Pitching is a thing of the past for me,” Colas told reporters through the team’s interpreter. Colas adds that it was an “easy decision” and that the White Sox were far more interested in his potential as an outfielder than they were on the mound. In fact, ChiSox special assistant Marco Paddy Duber and others say Colas “isn’t really a pitcher” and that his development on the mound would have taken significantly longer.

While it would have been a fun story to see a highly touted young talent like Colas aspiring to become a two-way player, the moniker “Cuban Ohtani” that was bestowed upon him always seemed rather misguided and, quite frankly , unfair to Colas himself due to the expectations attached to the nickname. As we noted at the time Colas was declared a free agent by MLB, comparing a player with all 3 1/3 innings professionally (during the 2018-19 Cuban National Series) to Ohtani never made much sense in the narrative could have been. Colas is reportedly capable of hitting 95mph with his fastball, and perhaps there’s a raw pitching talent that could have been honed. However, by the time Ohtani was that age, he had amassed 543 innings with 2.52 balls ERA in Nippon Professional Baseball and was on the verge of promotion straight to the majors.

None of this is meant to downplay Colas’ potential for big league success with the racquet. By all reports, the 6’1″, 220-pound slugger has tremendous raw power off the left side of the bowl and could eventually establish himself as a prolific big league slugger. Baseball America‘s Ben Badler recently noted that Colas is likely to settle in as a left fielder or first baseman, although he’s improved in fitness since leaving his native Cuba, due in part to questions about his outfield reach.

Given his age and professional experience in Cuba and Japan, Colas is more advanced than a typical amateur who would sign during international time in MLB. Having said that, he hasn’t played a game in the CNS or NPB since 2019 either, so there’s certainly some rust he needs to shake off as he acclimates again.

It’s possible he’ll move quickly, even though the White Sox already have a fairly crowded collection of players in the mix in outfield corners, at first base and at designated hitter. Jose Abreu is locked in at first base, leaving the outfield corners and DH work behind Eloy Jimenez, Andrew Vaughn and Gavin Leaves. Chicago also has fleet feet Adam Angel as an option on all three outfield positions and corner outfield prospect Mickey Adolfo has no minor league options, meaning he cannot be sent to the minors without first clearing waivers. It’s not an immediate issue anyway as Colas will need some time in the upper minors before he’s an option in the big leagues, but some turnover in this group of corner hitters/DH options is inevitable.

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