White Sox

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White Sox

The White Sox of the future are not short on confidence.

Just a day after Michael Kopech said he was ready for his call to the big leagues, Eloy Jimenez echoed his future teammate.

"I feel the same way. I can't wait to play in the bigs."

That was Jimenez before the start of SoxFest festivities last weekend at the Hilton Chicago. But this sort of thing is nothing new for the outfielder who came over in last summer's crosstown swap with the Cubs and who was just named the No. 4 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline.

In August, Jimenez predicted he'd hit a home run. He hit that home run.

"When I feel like I'm going to hit a home run, I can tell you," he said last Friday. "And I did it."

It seems some of these highly touted White Sox prospects share White Sox fans' visions of the future, a future where the incredible amount of talent injected into this farm system in the last year plus blossoms into a perennial World Series contender. Looking at what these prospects can do, it's hard not to buy in to general manager Rick Hahn's vision. Kopech can hit triple digits on the radar gun. Alec Hansen struck out nearly 200 guys last season.

"A lot of pitchers over there have really good stuff. Kopech, Alec Hansen. I know it's going to be fun," Jimenez said. "I'm happy I don't have to face Kopech and Alec Hansen. It's hard."

 

Jimenez, with his light-tower power, might be the most exciting of them all. The 21-year-old outfielder combined to slash .312/.379/.568 in 89 minor league games last season, splitting time between Class A Myrtle Beach (Cubs), Class A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham. He hit 19 homers and 22 doubles, scored 54 runs and drove in another 65.

Everyone wants to know when Jimenez will hit the bigs, assuming it will happen some time during the 2018 campaign. That's possible, of course, but Hahn cautioned against presumptions that guys like Kopech and Jimenez will arrive in Chicago so quickly.

"As we sit here right now, I want to say Eloy has roughly about 70-odd plate appearances above A-Ball, and he's also a year younger than (Yoan) Moncada was at this time a year ago," Hahn said last week. "If at age 21 he spends the entire year in Double-A in the Southern League and is even close to the level that he performed at for the three weeks he was there already, that's a really, really good developmental year.

"Now, the good ones have a way of sort of changing your timeline on that, and it's not going to shock me if at some point over the course of the summer Eloy forces our hand a little bit, we're going to have to wind up being a little more aggressive than, again, what would be a very fine developmental plan for a 21-year old who is hardly above A-Ball."

Hahn also said that just because players arrive on the South Side doesn't mean their development is complete and the White Sox will instantly run roughshod over the rest of Major League Baseball.

"It’s the rare, rare player that gets to the major league level and doesn’t need any further refinement or adjustment," Hahn said. "Even if it’s just getting comfortable with the speed of the game or the amount of the scrutiny that comes with being a big league ballplayer on a daily basis. So we know that’s going to continue.

"(Moncada)’s not a finished product, Tim Anderson’s not a finished product, Carlos Rodon’s not a finished product, despite being in the big leagues for a couple years. It’s part of the reason Ricky (Renteria) and the coaching staff is perfectly suited for this process. They’re all teachers, they all have roots in player development, they all have a history in setting organizational goals and holding players accountable for it, and that continues not just through our system, but once players get to Chicago."

Jimenez has his eyes on being that kind of rare, rare player, another example that confidence is not a tool he lacks. It isn't to say he's too cocky — he used the old baseball cliche of hitting a homer one day and striking out three times the next day, a humbling experience — and he said he knows his fate lies in Hahn and the front office's hands.

 

Jimenez feels the excitement around this group of young players. He knows that fans are itching to see them assembled, Avengers style, at Guaranteed Rate Field. Hahn feels it, too, and has repeatedly talked this offseason about how his frequent mentions of patience are directed just as much at his own front office as they are at the fan base.

But how can you not get excited when Jimenez says something like this?

"I talked with Zack (Collins) one day in Double-A. I told him, 'When we figure it out and get together in the big leagues, I know we're going to be awesome.

"'We're going to win a lot of World Series.'"