White Sox outfielder Oscar Colas rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the Padres at Peoria Stadium on March 11, 2023 in Peoria, Arizona. (Getty Images)
GLENDALE, Ariz. — These will be memorable days in the life of Oscar Colas, the White Sox’ prized outfield prospect. He has played almost every day in spring training as he tries to win the Opening Day right-field job, and from most indications, he’s well on his way.
Colas has made a fine impression, batting .300/.317/.475 with two home runs in a team-high 17 Cactus League games while learning every day how the speed of the major-league game is different. His confidence level “is 100% high,” he said. And in September, his wife is expected to deliver the couple’s first child, a boy.
“Oscar Junior,” Colas said with a proud smile Saturday morning at his locker at Camelback Ranch. “That’s motivation because I will have someone else to look after. That’s all I need.”
You wonder what kind of season Junior’s father will be having by September.
Manager Pedro Grifol has made it clear that Colas, who played just seven games at Triple-A after ascending through Class A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham in 2022, still has much to learn, and it figures Colas will have a much broader understanding by September. Outfield play, baserunning and a few finer points need to be spruced up before Opening Day, which is 12 days away.
“We’re working on correcting the mistakes, working to improve,” Colas said through a translator.
First-base coach Daryl Boston, who works with outfielders, said Colas is close to being ready.
“He’s not far,” Boston said. “We’ve had guys way worse than that out there. He’s definitely going to be ready.”
It’s plain to see in Colas’ body language that he wants to show he’s ready. If he makes an out, he appears this close to slamming his helmet. If he makes a mistake in the field, hands land on the hips. The head might bow.
“We always want to do our best, not make any mistakes or do anything wrong,” Colas said. “Sometimes you express frustration in those moments.”
“The game at this level is faster. Pitchers miss their spots by small margins. They might make two bad pitches in a game. Hitters don’t miss mistakes. Everybody is more focused. That makes the game faster.”
Colas, a 24-year-old Cuban who bats and throws lefty, is going to make mistakes, Grifol said, but he receives corrective instruction well.
“I’m glad he reacts like that,” Grifol said. “That means he’s creating a little urgency for himself to get it right, right? But he’s never going to get a pat in the [butt] from us on a mental mistake. As a matter of fact, he’s going to have somebody waiting for him right there.”
Boston said he sees an elite athlete in Colas, who played center field Thursday and Friday, but one who still has things to learn. He needs to sharpen up details of the game, such as throwing to the right base, hitting the cutoff man and keeping throws down.
Colas is working with Boston, bench coach Charlie Montoyo and field coordinator Mike Tosar.
“A lot of our kids who come from Cuba, they’re raw,” Boston said. “They just dominate with the bat in their hands, but even Luis Robert when he got here struggled with sliding and maybe secondary leads. It’s part of the game we need to educate them on.”
Colas wants to learn. Since signing for a $2.7 million bonus with the Sox last January, his goal was to win a big-league job.
“I’m here, and I cannot be afraid,” he said. “I’ve worked for it for many years, and it’s something I need to take advantage of.”
Ask him if he has earned it, Colas said he will let the Sox’ powers that be decide.
“I will do my part,” he said.