White Sox

Eloy Jimenez is as confident about the White Sox rebuild as anyone: 'We're going to win a lot of World Series'

Eloy Jimenez is as confident about the White Sox rebuild as anyone: 'We're going to win a lot of World Series'

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.'"

MLB The Show: White Sox avoid sweep, walk-off division-leading Twins

MLB The Show: White Sox avoid sweep, walk-off division-leading Twins

NBC Sports Chicago is simulating the 2020 White Sox season via MLB The Show during the postponement of play. The White Sox, stocked with young talent and veteran offseason acquisitions, were expected to take a big step forward in their rebuild this season. Follow along as we play out the first few months of the season.

Result: White Sox def. Twins, 6-5
Record: 29-31, 3rd in A.L. Central (3.5 GB of Twins)

W: Alex Colome (2-1)
L: Trevor May (0-2)

Game summary: Michael Kopech started for the White Sox on Sunday and was met with trouble immediately. Byron Buxton homered off the flame-throwing righty, and two batters later, Jorge Polanco doubled to bring in Max Kepler and make it 2-0 Twins. The trouble continued for Kopech in the second, as Miguel Sano hit a big fly to the left field bleachers.

The Sox bats came alive in the second, when Yasmani Grandal singled to center to bring in two runs, closing the deficit to one. They scored three runs in the next two innings behind the bats of Eloy Jimenez and Jose Abreu, who both singled to drive in runs. Jimenez continues to lead the league in RBIs (58) and also leads the league with 22 home runs.

After Alex Colome blew the save in the ninth with a 5-3 lead, the White Sox were in need of a hero in the bottom of the frame. Grandal came up clutch with an RBI single to score Luis Robert, giving the South Siders a 6-5 win to avoid being swept by the division-leading Twins.

White Sox lineup:

Edwin Encarnacion: 3-5, 2B (.323 BA)
Eloy Jimenez: 3-5, 2 RBI (.276 BA)
Yoan Moncada: 1-5 (.260 BA)
Nick Madrigal: 0-3, 2 BB (.256 BA)
Jose Abreu: 3-4, RBI, BB (.306 BA)
Tim Anderson: 1-5 (.296 BA)
Luis Robert: 2-5, 2 2B (.236 BA)
Yasmani Grandal: 3-3, 3 RBI, 2 BB (.319 BA)
Nomar Mazara: 1-4 (.243 BA)

Scoring summary:

Top first:

Byron Buxton homered to center field. 1-0 MIN.
Jorge Polanco doubled to right field, Max Kepler scored. 2-0 MIN.

Top second:

Miguel Sano homered to left field. 3-0 MIN.

Bottom second:

Yasmani Grandal singled to center field, Jose Abreu and Luis Robert scored. 3-2 MIN.

Bottom third:

Abreu singled to center field, Eloy Jimenez scored. 3-3.

Bottom fourth:

Jimenez singled to center field, Grandal and Nomar Mazara scored. 5-3 CHW.

Top ninth:

Eddie Rosario doubled to center field, Mitch Garver scored. 5-4 CHW.
Luis Arraez singled to center field, Rosario scored. 5-5.

Bottom ninth:

Grandal singled to right field, Robert scored. 6-5 CHW.

Notable performance: The White Sox were an offensive juggernaut in May, hitting .301 as a team with 60 home runs and 187 RBIs. They went 17-12 after going 12-19 in the first two months of the season.

Next game: Tuesday, June 2 - Game 61: White Sox at Royals (Lucas Giolito, 3-7, 5.10 ERA vs Brad Keller, 3-5, 4.42 ERA)

MLB The Show: White Sox fall behind big early, drop second straight to Twins

MLB The Show: White Sox fall behind big early, drop second straight to Twins

NBC Sports Chicago is simulating the 2020 White Sox season via MLB The Show during the postponement of play. The White Sox, stocked with young talent and veteran offseason acquisitions, were expected to take a big step forward in their rebuild this season. Follow along as we play out the first few months of the season.

Result: Twins def. White Sox 10-4
Record: 28-31, 3rd in A.L. Central (4.0 GB of Twins)

W: Rich Hill (4-4)
L: Reynaldo Lopez (5-2)

Game summary: All good things must come to an end. In the case of the White Sox' winning streak, things have come to an abrupt end. A day after the Twins put up 11 runs in the first two innings, Minnesota jumped on Chicago early again.

Reynaldo Lopez failed to make it out of the fourth inning. The Twins harassed him with singles a plenty, including RBI base knocks from Alex Avila and Miguel Sano in the second and fourth innings. Then, the big blow came from Jorge Polanco, whose grand slam gave Minnesota a 7-1 lead before the final out of the fourth. Lopez' day came to an end. 

Yasmani Grandal hit a pair of solo home runs in the third and fifth. Yoan Moncada added a couple more runs on a late two-run blast but the White Sox dropped their second straight to the Twins to fall four games back of the division leaders.

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White Sox lineup

Edwin Encarnacion: 0-3 (.316 BA)
Eloy Jimenez: 1-4, R (.269 BA)
Yoan Moncada: 2-4, HR (12), 2 RBI, R (.261 BA)
Nick Madrigal: 1-4 (.261 BA)
Jose Abreu: 2-4, 2B (.298 BA)
Tim Anderson: 0-4 (.298 BA)
Luis Robert: 0-4 (.232 BA)
Yasmani Grandal: 3-4, 2 HR (21), 2 RBI, 2 R (.309 BA)
Nomar Mazara: 0-3 (.243 BA)

Scoring summary: 

Top first

Luis Arraez grounded into double play, Byron Buxton scored. 1-0 MIN.

Top second

Alex Avila singled to right field, Josh Donaldson scored. 2-0 MIN.

Bottom third

Yasmani Grandal homered to left field. 2-1 MIN.

Top fourth

Miguel Sano singled to left field, Eddie Rosario scored. 3-1 MIN.
Jorge Polanco homered to right field, Sano, Max Kepler and Avila scored. 7-1 MIN.
Nelson Cruz homered to center field, Arraez scored. 9-1 MIN.

Bottom fifth

Grandal homered to center field. 9-2 MIN.

Bottom sixth

Yoan Moncada homered to center field, Eloy Jimenez scored. 9-4 MIN.

Top eighth

Polanco homered to left field. 10-4 MIN.

Notable performance: With his two homers on Saturday, Grandal now has 21 on the season, which trails only teammate Eloy Jimenez for the team lead. Grandal is third in the AL in RBIs (49) and leads the league in WAR (4.5). Not too shabby for the eight-hole hitter.

Next game: Sunday, May 31 - Game 60: Twins vs White Sox (Devin Smeltzer, 6-2, 2.42 ERA vs Michael Kopech, 0-0, 3.78 ERA)

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