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.
White Sox fans are gitty about the potential of Eloy Jimenez, the prized prospect who has shown a flare for the dramatic since the White Sox acquired him in the Jose Quintana trade.
In this podcast, Chuck Garfien speaks with Jason Benetti who talks about what it was like calling the game on Saturday when Jimenez came off the bench in a game he wasn’t supposed to play and hit the go-ahead home run against the Cubs. They discuss why Jimenez could be a superstar with the White Sox, if it will be difficult for Rick Hahn to keep him in the minors and much more.
Plus, Benetti gives Sox fans a sleeper White Sox player in 2018 and he helps Chuck fill out his NCAA Tournament bracket.
Check out the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:
You couldn't have written it any better.
Coming into the weekend, Eloy Jimenez had one at-bat during spring training as he waited, sidelined with an injury, for his return to the White Sox Cactus League lineup.
Well he came back Saturday, filling in as a pinch-hitter late in the White Sox game against the Cubs, the team that traded Jimenez to the other side of town last summer.
And what did Jimenez do in his first at-bat back while facing his former organization? He hit a go-ahead, two-run homer.
Because of course he did.
Now this is spring training, and the results mean nothing. Heck, the game ended in a 4-all tie. But how wild is this? Jimenez returns from weeks away from game action, only to blast a clutch homer against the team that gave him up in last year's Jose Quintana deal? That's poetry in motion right there.
Jimenez, the top-ranked prospect in the White Sox organization and the No. 4 prospect in all of baseball, has a ways to go until he's doing that kind of thing in big league games that count. With just 18 games above the Class A level under his belt, he figures to start the year at Double-A Birmingham. Fans are anxious to know when he'll reach the South Side, but general manager Rick Hahn has cautioned that a good developmental season for Jimenez might include him not reaching the bigs at all. And things would be just fine for the 21-year-old outfielder.
But Hahn has also said that the great ones have a tendency to push their way to the majors and change the timeline. Jimenez could certainly fall into that category, as well.
So on a day when the rebuild saw another challenge — Luis Robert will be out of action for approximately 10 weeks thanks to a thumb injury — it also saw another glimpse of the future.
Jimenez homers? Against the Cubs? You couldn't have written it any better.