White Sox

Eloy Jimenez is getting compared to ... Kyle Schwarber?

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USA TODAY

Eloy Jimenez is getting compared to ... Kyle Schwarber?

During a seminar this past weekend at SoxFest, Eloy Jimenez found out how he, one of the stars of the White Sox rebuild, could get booed by a room full of South Side baseball fans.

He confessed that he grew up rooting for the team on the other side of town.

Yolmer Sanchez, meanwhile, played the crowd like an umpire-impersonating Frank Drebin and earned cheers by saying he grew up rooting for the White Sox, but that's beside the point.

Jimenez came over in that crosstown swap with the Cubs last summer and is now arguably the White Sox prospect fans are most looking forward to seeing in the big leagues. He's rated extremely high, the No. 4 prospect in the game, according to MLB Pipeline's recently released rankings.

In other words, there seems to be little that could dampen White Sox fans' enthusiasm over Jimenez — except maybe more Cubs talk.

Monday, MLB Pipeline's Jim Callis went through the site's top 10 prospects — which include both Jimenez and White Sox pitcher Michael Kopech — and drew up some comparisons with past prospects who are now, mostly, starring at the major league level. To do this, he used scouting grades for each "tool" — bat, power, speed, arm and defense. And White Sox fans not too fond of the team that plays to the immediate north might not be too happy that Jimenez was compared to current Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber.

It's mighty important to note that this comparison is between Jimenez now and Schwarber when he was a highly touted prospect during the 2015 season. It's not a projection of what kind of big league player Jimenez will end up being.

The two have one main thing in common: power. Schwarber hit 30 home runs last season and hit 46 over the course of his first 200 major league games. There'd be nothing wrong with Jimenez doing something like that. He's got 43 homers in his 300 career minor league games.

But the crosstown rivalry means White Sox fans would be expected to focus on the struggles Schwarber has had, specifically last year, when he was sent down to Triple-A for a stretch. His 2017 woes were blown a bit out of proportion, perhaps, given all the expectations on the North Side, but a 40-point dip in his on-base percentage between his 2015 rookie year and last year was significant. White Sox fans hearing their top prospect compared to a guy who was sent down last season aren't likely to be dancing in the streets.

Again, however, this is a prospect-to-prospect comparison. At the moment, both young players have enormous potential to be cranking homers out of Chicago ballparks for years to come.

For what it's worth, Jimenez now gets a better power grade and a better arm grade than what Schwarber got midway through 2015. The grades are the same for bat, speed and defense.

Kopech's comparison isn't likely to fire up the White Sox fan base one way or the other. He was matched with current Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Tyler Glasnow, who was terrific in 15 games at Triple-A last season but posted some pretty ugly numbers in 15 games with the big league Bucs.

The biggest pieces of the White Sox rebuild are on absolute fire in September, great news for 2020

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USA TODAY

The biggest pieces of the White Sox rebuild are on absolute fire in September, great news for 2020

“The 2020 season, it starts in September.”

Jose Abreu said that before August was even over, looking toward the final month of yet another losing season, yet another season without a playoff appearance on the South Side. Of course, everyone involved with this organization is hoping that changes in 2020, and with his sights on that campaign, Abreu talked about using the last month of this one to get ready for next year.

Well, if this month is really the first month of what’s next, the guys who figure to play the biggest roles on that 2020 team — in this rebuild, in general — are off to a heck of a start.

Friday night, it was the quartet of Abreu, Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez powering a high-scoring win over the Seattle Mariners. The four combined to go 8-for-18 with two home runs, two doubles, a triple, seven RBIs and six runs scored.

It was a nice microcosm of what’s been happening all month.

In the dozen games the White Sox have played in September, Abreu, Anderson, Moncada and Jimenez have combined for a .363 batting average, a .431 on-base percentage, a .687 slugging percentage, 13 home runs, 18 doubles, a triple, 42 RBIs and 40 runs scored. They’ve accounted for more than 58 percent of the runs the team has scored and more than 61 percent of the runs the team has driven in.

Considering Anderson, Moncada and Jimenez are three cornerstones of Rick Hahn’s rebuilding effort and the elder statesman Abreu, with his constant declarations of his desire to remain with the team, seems a safe bet to be back in black for 2020, this is the core of this lineup moving forward playing at an extremely high level.

It’s exactly what the White Sox and their fans want to see.

Anderson is going to be dominating the headlines the rest of the way as he chases a batting title. He woke up Saturday with the best batting average in baseball, a .334 mark for the 2019 season. In September alone, he’s hitting .400.

Moncada has steadily had the best all-around offensive season of anyone on the team, quite the transformation from a year ago, when he struck out 217 times in a disappointing first full campaign as a major leaguer. In September, he’s hitting even better than Anderson, with a .435 batting average to go along with an insane .500 on-base percentage.

Jimenez has had an up-and-down rookie season, but he’s closing in on 30 home runs after smashing No. 27 on Friday night. He’s definitely in the midst of one of his better stretches right now and owns a .694 slugging percentage with five homers in September.

Abreu has been criticized by certain segments of the fan base for the noticeable dip in his on-base percentage this season. Thanks to a hot finish, it is higher than last year’s at the moment, but if the season ended today, it would be lower than the figures he posted during his first four seasons in the big leagues. But what those critics aren’t focusing on is one of the most productive seasons of Abreu’s career. He also homered Friday and is up to 33 bombs on the season, three off the career high he set as a rookie in 2014. And he’s blasted past his career high in RBIs from that same season, up to 116, which leads the American League. He's got five September homers and a .784 slugging percentage on the month.

In a season judged from the outset based on the development and performance of the team’s core players rather than its win-loss record, that’s all spectacular news for the organization moving forward into 2020. Combine all that with the strides made by Lucas Giolito and James McCann, the arrival of Dylan Cease, the expected return of Michael Kopech, the expected arrivals of Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal, plus what’s expected to be an active offseason, and this team is shaping up to have a very promising outlook for 2020.

“I’m expecting that this is it,” manager Rick Renteria said after Thursday’s game, asked if he believed the White Sox string of sub-.500 seasons would end next year. “We are trying to win. I think we talk about it, we are going through it. I know there’s still refining to do, but I’ll be honest with you. We are finishing this season, we are talking about coming into next season ready to battle, period, exclamation point. That’s what we are looking to do.”

If these four guys keep swinging the bats like this straight on into next March, that would go a long way toward proving their manager right.

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Tim Anderson now leads all of baseball in batting average

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USA TODAY

Tim Anderson now leads all of baseball in batting average

Tim Anderson’s quest for the batting title got a boost on Friday, and his quest for the AL batting title is looking more like reality by the day.

Anderson had a 2-for-5 night in Friday’s 9-7 win in Seattle to raise his batting average to .334. He is nine points ahead of Yankees second baseman DJ LaMahieu.

The White Sox have 15 games left in the season so it’s getting down to the wire.

Anderson not only leads in the AL, but also leads all of the majors in batting. He jumped ahead of Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon, who had an 0-for-4 night on Friday to drop to .332.

Anderson’s evolution from .240 hitting in 2018 (and a career .258 hitter entering 2019) to leading the majors in batting average on Sept. 14 is one of the more surprising and relevant developments of the White Sox season. He’s also been fun on the field, and even on social media.

On Friday morning, MLB tweeted out a vote for best bat flip of the year and the only two in contention were Ronald Acuna Jr and Bryce Harper. Anderson (and the White Sox along with plenty of White Sox fans) jumped in the replies to call out the snub.


He then quote tweeted his own notable bat flip for comparison.


Stay fun, Tim.

 

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