Typically, anyone who has come across Luis Robert in a professional capacity has strong things to say about him. Add Charlotte Knights hitting coach Frank Menechino to the list.
"He out-talented a lot of players out there," Menechino said of Robert. "He's got to really figure out who he is and what he hits good because right now he's trying to hit everything. When he figures out how to boil it down to a certain zone and be stingy and be OK with a walk, then you're going to start seeing a finished product. The sky is the limit with him, but he's still got to learn."
From that it doesn't sound like Menechino is firmly in the camp of Robert deserving a big league call-up this year. However, he later went on to say that Robert will need time in the majors to adjust.
"In my opinion it takes a guy three years in the big leagues to finally see what he's going to be," Menechino said. "You need 1,500 at-bats in the big leagues to see what you're going to be, so it's really hard to project when they come up here what they're going to do because you're going to have a good year, you're going to have a bad year and people are going to automatically assume that (Robert) should be a .330 hitter with 50 homers here. That's not going to happen until after three years in the big leagues and you figure out what this guy is going to do because you got to constantly make adjustments up here.
"Is 200 at-bats in Triple-A really going to show you what a guy really has?"
Menechino emphasized how Robert needs to work at-bats better and be able to talk walks. Robert didn't draw many walks in the minors this season. He had 28 in 551 plate appearances, but he also was able to succeed with an aggressive approach.
Menechino's point is that Robert will have to refine his approach when he sees tougher pitching in the majors.
"It's like a 12-year-old kid playing football that's 6-foot-2," Menechino said. "He should be killing everybody and you're like ‘Wow, he's kinda tentative or he's passive.' Luis is young. He's learning. He's got all these expectations on him. It's hard. He wants to live up to the expectations, but there's a learning process in there and people have to realize that there's a learning process."
Menechino wants to see Robert continue to grow and learn as a hitter. That's not surprising for a 22-year-old who just completed his first full season in the minors (injuries limited him to 50 games last year).
That said, he still noticed some of the eye-popping talent Robert has.
"When he mishits the ball, it friggin goes," Menechino said. "I mean, fooled, out in front, one-hand, homer. I'm not talking about in Charlotte. I'm talking about on the road. Fooled, slider, down and away, fooled, barrel, homer. Holy cow. How did that ball get out? The ball jumps out. He's got leverage. He's got bad speed. He's got to put that all together and he could be a monster."
If that interview shows anything, it's that Menechino wants fans to be patient with Robert when he does make the jump to the majors. But once he gets solid footing? Look out.