Eloy Jimenez is one of baseball's young up-and-coming stars, and he's got an awful lot of power.
So he's kind of a no-brainer for the Home Run Derby.
The annual home run hitting contest the night before the All-Star Game isn't quite as prestigious for participants as it once was, back when the likes of Ken Griffey Jr., Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and others of their era were involved on a yearly basis. A tweaked, tournament-style format — plus hometown sluggers Todd Frazier and Bryce Harper winning in Cincinnati and Washington, respectively — have made the event an entertaining watch again, but the inclusion of the game's biggest stars is always what draws eyeballs.
Yahoo Sports' Blake Schuster had a good idea: What better way to draw those young fans the game is always targeting than to fill this year's Derby exclusively with rookies? Who knows if Major League Baseball saw that piece or not, but two rookies have already been confirmed to participate: Pete Alonso of the New York Mets and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays. Cleveland Indians slugger Carlos Santana will be there, too. He's not a rookie by any stretch, but he is a member of the host team.
Jimenez would be a perfect inclusion, a fun-loving player with a mile-wide smile who hits baseballs really, really far.
The latter attribute was on display for the second straight game Saturday, when Jimenez crushed a ball halfway up the bleachers in left-center field during the ninth inning of an otherwise forgettable day at the yard for the White Sox, who were out-slugged by the visiting Minnesota Twins. The night before, his insurance-providing two-run blast in the bottom of the eighth ended up being the difference. And of course White Sox fans don't need to be reminded of the game-winning, broken-bat homer that beat the Cubs a little more than a week ago.
Jimenez has 14 home runs during his rookie season, with more than half of those coming in his last 25 games, a stretch that's seen him hit .308 and drive in 22 runs. After a slow start, with just three homers in his first 23 contests, he's got 11 dingers in his last 33 games and is suddenly on pace for around 34. That's not quite the outlandish 38 home runs predicted by this writer before the season started — hey, we were all caught up in Eloy Mania — but it's not far off. It's enough to warrant inclusion on one of the game's biggest stages.
But it doesn't sound like it's something that's taking up too much real estate in Jimenez's mind.
"Right now, I don’t worry about it," he said after Saturday's game. "If the time comes and I need to go, I maybe go. But right now I’m not worried about that."
His manager wasn't too keen on talking about the subject, either.
"That’s not a situation in which I have anything to do with," he said Saturday. "And there are certainly other guys that have been around and are doing the things they need to do to put themselves in that position.
"I don’t want to speak to how everyone views the necessity to do things like that. I'm more concerned on how we’re going to continue to improve him here. He’ll have plenty of time in the future to be a part of all that."
Certainly downsides of participating in the Derby have been well discussed throughout the years, and for a guy still trying to learn how to be a big league player, maybe throwing him into a swing-altering home run contest isn't the greatest idea, from the White Sox standpoint. They would surely prefer his mammoth home runs keep coming in games. And Renteria's right, if Jimenez becomes the kind of star player everyone believes he will, there will be opportunities to stand on the game's biggest stages in the future.
But with Lucas Giolito and James McCann expected to be named to the team when the rosters are revealed Sunday, what a coming-out party it could be for the rebuilding White Sox and their blindingly bright future to have Jimenez as part of the festivities, as well.
We'll have to wait and see. If not this year, though, perhaps in a Derby down the line.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.