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.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Class A manager Justin Jirschele, youngest manager in professional baseball

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Class A manager Justin Jirschele, youngest manager in professional baseball

27-year-old Justin Jirschele made quite an impression in his first season as manager of the White Sox Class-A affiliate in Kannapolis. He helped lead the Intimidators to the South Atlantic League championship, and was named White Sox Minor League Coach of the Year. Jirschele came on the podcast to speak with Chuck Garfien about how he went from playing minor league baseball with the White Sox to coaching in their system. He talks about how growing up with a dad who was coaching minor league baseball helped mold him as a manager who is wise beyond his years. Jirschele also gives a report on some of the top White Sox prospects he managed last season such as Jake Burger, Alec Hansen, Dane Dunning and Miker Adolfo.

After baseball punishes Braves, one ranker says White Sox have game's best farm system

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USA TODAY

After baseball punishes Braves, one ranker says White Sox have game's best farm system

The White Sox farm system is baseball's best, according to one of the people making those rankings.

In the wake of Major League Baseball's punishment of the Atlanta Braves for breaking rules regarding the signing of international players — which included the removal of 12 illegally signed prospects from the Braves' organization — MLB.com's Jim Callis tweeted out his updated top 10, and the White Sox are back in first place.

Now obviously there are circumstances that weakened the Braves' system, allowing the White Sox to look stronger by comparison. But this is still an impressive thing considering that three of the White Sox highest-rated prospects from the past year are now full-time big leaguers.

Yoan Moncada used to be baseball's No. 1 prospect, and pitchers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez weren't too far behind. That trio helped bolster the highly ranked White Sox system. Without them, despite plenty of other highly touted prospects, common sense would say that the White Sox would slide down the rankings.

But the White Sox still being capable of having baseball's top-ranked system is a testament to the organizational depth Rick Hahn has built in such a short period of time.

While prospect rankings are sure to be refreshed throughout the offseason, here's how MLB Pipeline's rankings look right now in regards to the White Sox:

4. Eloy Jimenez
9. Michael Kopech
22. Luis Robert
39. Blake Rutherford
57. Dylan Cease
90. Alec Hansen