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.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Winter Meetings: Harper, Machado and emotional Harold Baines interview

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Winter Meetings: Harper, Machado and emotional Harold Baines interview

Chuck Garfien, Ryan McGuffey and Vinnie Duber come to you from the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.

With all the recent talk about Bryce Harper, could Manny Machado be the big free agent the White Sox sign this winter? (4:34) Ken Williams talks about moving from sell mode to buy mode (7:49). Chuck interviews new Hall of Famer Harold Baines who sheds tears speaking about his dad (11:51) and ESPN's Tim Kurkjian comes on the podcast to discuss the White Sox chances of signing Harper and the decision he and the Today's Game Committee made to elect Baines into the Hall of Fame (18:05).

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

White Sox Talk Podcast

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The Bryce Harper derby might already be down to three teams — and the White Sox are one of them

The Bryce Harper derby might already be down to three teams — and the White Sox are one of them

LAS VEGAS — How about this for the first day of the Winter Meetings?

According to a tweet from NBC LA's Michael Duarte, the Bryce Harper sweepstakes might already be down to just three teams. And the White Sox are one of them.

The White Sox, Phillies and Dodgers have been mentioned as possible landing spots for Harper for a while now. The White Sox have the financial flexibility and seeming willingness to offer what's expected to be the biggest contract in baseball history to a guy who would mesh perfectly with their rebuilding plans. The Phillies have vowed to "spend stupid" and have been pegged as perhaps the favorite for more than a month. And the Dodgers are a high-spending club who have reportedly already pitched Harper on starring in Southern California. The White Sox, for what it's worth, have also reportedly made their pitch, one featuring Hall of Famer Jim Thome.

Harper — who once saw enough pitches to walk 13 times during a four-game weekend set with the Cubs — has reportedly been hearing quite a lot of pitches this week with all 30 teams in his hometown of Las Vegas.

But the perhaps most interesting tidbit of Duarte's tweet is that the Dodgers might find themselves out of the running if they're not able to move other pieces around or not willing to meet the requests of Harper's agent, Scott Boras.

Also on Day 1 of the Winter Meetings, the New York Yankees pretty much bowed out of the Harper derby, and the St. Louis Cardinals did the same thing.

So where does this leave the White Sox? Well, it leaves them, apparently, as one of the teams with the best chances to land the biggest fish in this winter's free-agent pond.

If there truly are three finalists, a number that could of course still grow and shrink as the week (and offseason) goes on, and the Dodgers aren't looking like a very solid one, then the White Sox would figure to be in an excellent position. The Yankees bowing out took a team coming off a 100-win season with a championship-caliber roster off the board. The Dodgers boast similar recent success as the back-to-back NL champs, but if they're potentially not long for this sweepstakes, either, then the rebuilding White Sox don't have to pitch against that kind of immediate success. The Phillies made great strides in their rebuilding process last season, but there wouldn't be as much separation between the White Sox and the Phillies, when it comes to selling the ability to win championships, as there would be between the White Sox and the Dodgers or Yankees.

Harper would be a no-brainer fit with the White Sox future-focused long-term plan. Adding him to the collection of highly touted prospects could make the White Sox a contender for years to come, even if it doesn't even make them a playoff team right away in 2019. It's the kind of big-time opportunity the White Sox have been talking about taking advantage of to align with their ongoing development of a perennial contender.

"It’s very important for us to remain very diligent where we are in this," Hahn said Monday night. "We’re entering Year 3 of a rebuild, and although I think there’s some potential skepticism that it might be a year too soon, perhaps be pushing it, we’re very mindful of that. And we also want to balance the fact there is some unique opportunities out there in the market, and we wouldn’t be doing our job — even if it is perhaps a year too early — not doing our job if we didn’t fully vet those opportunities.

"It doesn’t mean we’re going to just look for any way to make some sort of splash. It has to fit with the long-term vision of what we’re trying to accomplish. Traditionally, the third year of a rebuild isn’t always the time where you push those chips in, so to speak, but when unique opportunities present themselves you have to respond."

The White Sox seem to be responding. Will Harper respond favorably to their pursuit?

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