Dylan Cease

Eloy Jimenez and other prospects sent to minors as White Sox make latest round of spring roster cuts

Eloy Jimenez and other prospects sent to minors as White Sox make latest round of spring roster cuts

Despite returning from his injury layoff with a bang, Eloy Jimenez will not be starting the 2018 season in the major leagues.

As expected, he'll be heading to Double-A Birmingham, and that's where the White Sox sent their top prospect Wednesday as they made their latest round of spring roster cuts.

Jimenez finished last season at Birmingham, playing a handful of games there after being promoted from Class A. He slashed .353/.397/.559 with three homers and five doubles in 18 games with the Barons.

Out for a couple weeks, Jimenez returned to the White Sox spring lineup over the weekend, starting things with a pinch-hit homer against the Cubs, the team that shipped him to the South Side in last summer's Jose Quintana trade. Jimenez followed with another homer and a triple in Sunday's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Monday, he picked up another hit and finished his four-game Cactus League season at 4-for-7 with two homers, a triple, three RBIs, three runs scored and two walks.

Joining the No. 4 prospect in baseball in being optioned to Birmingham was pitcher Ian Clarkin, the No. 17 prospect in the White Sox system. Outfielders Micker Adolfo and Luis Basabe, the White Sox Nos. 11 and 14 prospects, were optioned to Class A Winston-Salem. Pitcher Dylan Cease and catcher Zack Collins, the team's Nos. 5 and 9 prospects, were assigned to minor league camp. Outfielder Daniel Palka and infielder Jose Rondon were optioned to Triple-A Charlotte. These moves have the White Sox at 45 players in big league camp out in Glendale.

MLB Pipeline ranks White Sox farm system third in baseball: Here are their top 30 Sox prospects


MLB Pipeline ranks White Sox farm system third in baseball: Here are their top 30 Sox prospects

MLB Pipeline is often the go-to when it comes to each team's top prospect lists.

Well, after ranking the White Sox farm system as the third best in the game, the site revealed its preseason picks for the organization's top 30 prospects.

The top seven appeared on MLB Pipeline's list of the top 100 prospects in baseball in January: outfielder Eloy Jimenez (4), pitcher Michael Kopech (10), outfielder Luis Robert (28), pitcher Alec Hansen (54), pitcher Dylan Cease (61), pitcher Dane Dunning (92) and outfielder Blake Rutherford (99).

Every one of those guys, by the way, were acquired in the last 14 months. Same goes for the No. 8 prospect, third baseman Jake Burger, the team's first-round draft pick in 2017.

But considering the incredible amount of talent the White Sox have injected into their system in the last year-plus, the entire top 30 should be of great interest to fans. Here's the full list. Click on the players' names to Meet the Prospects.

1. Eloy Jimenez, OF
2. Michael Kopech, P
3. Luis Robert, OF
4. Alec Hansen, P
5. Dylan Cease, P
6. Dane Dunning, P
7. Blake Rutherford, OF
8. Jake Burger, 3B
9. Zack Collins, C
10. Carson Fulmer, P
11. Micker Adolfo, OF
12. Gavin Sheets, 1B
13. Zack Burdi, P
14. Luis Alexander Basabe, OF
15. Spencer Adams, P
16. Charlie Tilson, OF
17. Ian Clarkin, P
18. Ryan Cordell, OF
19. Luis Gonzalez, OF
20. Aaron Bummer, P
21. Ian Hamilton, P
22. Jordan Stephens, P
23. Seby Zavala, C
24. Evan Skoug, C
25. Luis Curbelo, SS
26. A.J. Puckett, P
27. Tyler Johnson, P
28. Lincoln Henzman, P
29. Thyago Vieira, P
30. Justin Yurchak, 1B/3B

And remember, that doesn't include guys who graduated from prospect status just last year and have yet to play their first full season in the majors, guys like Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, who were all at or near the top of this list last year.

Get excited, White Sox fans.

Who's the White Sox ace of the future? 'We'll have five of them'

Who's the White Sox ace of the future? 'We'll have five of them'

Monday at Camelback Ranch, there was Michael Kopech, mowing down the Oakland A’s with an array of fastballs ranging from 97 to 101 mph, looking very much like the White Sox ace of the future.

It’s a role he envisions for himself one day. Just not yet.

“Right now, I’m focused on cracking the rotation at some point and helping the team win as much as I possibly can,” Kopech said during a recent interview at White Sox camp. “If that lands me a spot as the ace in the future, then I’ll be extremely honored and grateful, but right now it’s one step at a time.”

It’s one step for Kopech, but what if many of these top pitching prospects take that giant leap and reach their potential in the majors?

Forget about one ace. The White Sox could end up with several.

“Personally, I want the White Sox staff to have five aces,” fellow starter Lucas Giolito said. “Every single day, whoever is taking that mound is the ace of that day and that’s who we’re behind. That’s the ace of the staff on the mound. We’ll have five of them.”

At a time when teams like the Cubs, Astros and Red Sox have given up top prospects to acquire high-end starting pitching, the White Sox system might be loaded with it. Granted, they needed to trade Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Adam Eaton to accumulate a good chunk of that pitching depth (they also got possible superstars Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez in those deals), but if they’re able to hit on most of these hurlers, it’ll be a great problem to have.

Besides Kopech and Giolito, there’s Alec Hansen, Dylan Cease, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning, not to mention Carlos Rodon and Carson Fulmer.

Forget about a five-man rotation. I joked with Kopech they might eventually need a 10-man rotation to find room for everyone.

“We should. There’s really no point in shortening it,” Kopech said. “Yeah, it’s going to be unbelievable if everything goes as planned.”

The key word here is “if.” Not every top prospect reaches his potential, let alone the majors. Look at Jake Burger, who suffered an Achilles injury in Monday’s game. The White Sox top draft pick could be out for months.

But while you can’t see into the future, you can see all the high-end arms the White Sox possess and feel hopeful about what is possible.

“Especially with the stuff guys have, watching the bullpens, it’s kind of crazy,” Giolito said. “The A-ball guys and up. The current big league guys. Everyone’s got nasty stuff. It’s going to be real fun.”

What does it take to be an ace? Kopech has an idea.

“It’s the guys who want to be great that end up being great for some reason,” Kopech explained. “It has a lot to do with the mindset. I think Hansen has it. I think Cease is another who has it.”

When I read that quote back to Cease, who the White Sox acquired in the Quintana trade, he was at a loss for words.

“I don’t even know what to say. That’s awesome. I really appreciate him saying that,” Cease said. “I want to get better everyday. I want to grow. Wherever that takes me, I’m excited.”

Hansen believes the White Sox have “four or five” possible aces, with him being one of them. He’d personally like to see him and Kopech be 1-2 in a future White Sox rotation.

“It sounds good to say that, and I hope that happens because I think that could be really special,” he said of a Kopech-Hansen combo.

We’ll let them decide who’s 1 and who’s 2. But right now, Hansen knows it’s just talk. Both are miles away from reaching such heights. They’ll need to match those words with action.

“Everyone’s got potential. It’s just a matter of fulfilling it,” Hansen said. “Who’s going to do what it takes to fulfill their potential?”

That’s the big question. If most of these prospects hit their ceiling, the White Sox will love the final answer.

“It’s exciting that we’re all at the same point of our careers,” Kopech said. “I’m really excited to see what the future has in store for us.”