White Sox

Why White Sox would be best served to remain patient with Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech

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AP

Why White Sox would be best served to remain patient with Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech

White Sox farmhand Eloy Jimenez made it very clear he intends to land on the South Side sometime next season.

The current Dominican League player of the week — and MLBPipeline.com’s No. 4 overall prospect in baseball — said Wednesday his top priority is to either start or finish the 2018 campaign in the big leagues with the White Sox. Since he was acquired in the Jose Quintana trade last July, Jimenez, who finished the season at Double-A Birmingham, has been an offensive juggernaut. He hasn’t slowed down in winter ball, either, as he’s hitting .400/.405/.714 with two home runs and eight RBIs in his first eight games for the Gigantes del Cibao.

The outfielder’s outstanding production is certain to draw many calls for Jimenez’s arrival to be expedited next season. How the White Sox handle Jimenez and Michael Kopech, who both appear to be on the cusp of reaching the majors, could be significant in what kind of fruit the club’s rebuild ultimately bares.

“Right now my purpose is to keep working hard, finish strong here and start or end the next season in the United States in the Major Leagues,” Jimenez told the team.

While the top prospect’s latest statement is sure to fire up White Sox fans waiting for his big league debut yet again, it’s also certain to test the will of the front office.

Last month, general manager Rick Hahn said the White Sox are in a tricky position. Similar to their thirsty fans, the team’s brain trust is encouraged by what took place in 2017. They’d love to hit the fast forward button and are just as eager as anyone to snap a lengthy postseason drought that extends all the way back to 2008.

But that’s the difficult part as Hahn knows the White Sox must remain vigilant when it comes to the long-term plan and not rush any prospects. Jimenez and Kopech are likely in 2018 to test Hahn, who often says that the “good ones have a way of forcing the issue.” When he visited the White Sox in September, Kopech realized he’s only “one step away” after a dominant 2017 season.

What the White Sox must do is find the balance in between and afford their top minor leaguers enough time to accomplish everything they need before they arrive in the big leagues. That means giving Kopech sufficient time to further hone his fastball command and work on secondary pitches and allowing Jimenez who only has 73 plate appearances above Single-A —  more time against advanced pitchers to have an idea what awaits him in the bigs.

The White Sox did a good job of staying patient in 2017 with second baseman Yoan Moncada and pitchers Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito and Carson Fulmer.

Unlike years past when prospects were rushed to the majors to fill holes for an organization that hoped to be competitive, the White Sox reversed course in 2017 and let them further develop at Triple-A Charlotte. The new philosophy paid dividends for Giolito and Fulmer, who both shrugged off midsummer slumps and performed well on the mound in September. It also gave Moncada and Lopez time to adapt to a new organization after the massive trades that brought them to the White Sox last December. Moncada responded by producing 1.7 b-Wins Above Replacement in 54 games and Lopez showed plenty of signs he’s a middle of the rotation pitcher during his eight starts.

Kopech and Jimenez should push the White Sox the same way Moncada and Lopez did in 2017. The team would be best served to handle them in a similar fashion.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Rick Hahn gives an update on the state of the White Sox rebuild

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Rick Hahn gives an update on the state of the White Sox rebuild

In this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Chris Bleck (ESPN 1000) and Scott King (WGN Radio) join David Kaplan on the panel.

Ryan Pace’s offseason begins. Josh Sitton and Jerrell Freeman are gone, but what will he do with Kyle Fuller?

Plus, Rick Hahn joins Kap from Glendale, Ariz., to discuss the state of the White Sox rebuild, how tough it is to keep their best prospects in the minors and why Jose Abreu is so important for his young team?

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

White Sox Talk Podcast on The Three Amigos: Jimenez, Robert and Adolfo

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast on The Three Amigos: Jimenez, Robert and Adolfo

The White Sox three outfield prospects are creating a lot of buzz at spring training.

On this edition of the podcast, Micker Adolfo tells Chuck Garfien about a conversation they all had about one day becoming the starting outfield for the White Sox. Adolfo talks about his longtime friendship with Eloy Jimenez, his impressions of Luis Robert, Luis Basabe and the White Sox future.

But first, it's a conversation with MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez who has great insight on many of the White Sox players: Jimenez, Robert, Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu. He tells an amazing story about why Jimenez decided to sign with the Cubs when he was a teenager, how much Abreu is revered in Cuba and much more.

Listen to the full episode at this link (iOS users can go here) or in the embedded player below. Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.