White Sox

Eloy Jimenez's agents sound off on service time as White Sox top prospect remains in minor leagues

Eloy Jimenez's agents sound off on service time as White Sox top prospect remains in minor leagues

Eloy Jimenez is still not a major leaguer, and that has a couple people rather upset.

Jimenez’s agents sounded off in a piece written by FanCred’s Jon Heyman, directing ire at the White Sox for not yet promoting their top-ranked prospect to the major league roster, insisting the only reason Jimenez isn’t currently playing on the South Side is because the team is angling for an extra year of control.

“How can you say with a straight face this guy needs to work on anything?” said Paul Kinzer, the president of the agency that represents Jimenez, to Heyman. “What’s he need to work on?”

All season long, the discussion around Jimenez has focused on one question: When will he join the big league squad? He was stellar last season after coming over with Dylan Cease in the Crosstown swap that sent Jose Quintana to the Cubs, and in 2018, Jimenez has only generated more excitement over what kind of slugger he’ll be once he puts on a White Sox uniform for good.

He slashed .317/.368/.556 with 10 homers and 42 RBIs in 56 games at Double-A Birmingham, earning a promotion to Triple-A Charlotte, where he’s slashing .365/.406/.604 with 11 homers and 32 RBIs in 51 games. Jimenez has been especially hot of late, slashing .400/.426/.508 in his last 16 games.

Of course, as general manager Rick Hahn has often said this season, there’s plenty to do with a player’s development that doesn’t show up in the box score, and no one knows which developmental milestones the White Sox front office is waiting to see from Jimenez besides the White Sox front office.

Jimenez’s agents, however, aren’t buying the logic that there's more for Jimenez to show.

“I don’t see what boxes he needs to check to be called up,” Jimenez’s agent Nelson Montes De Oca told Heyman, “except for service time.”

Service time has been a popular talking point in recent months as the vocal White Sox fans on social media seemed to flip a switch, going from arguing that Jimenez belongs in the big leagues now to arguing that waiting until the early weeks of next season makes the most sense, starting the clock a year later and adding a year of team control to the end of Jimenez’s contract. For a White Sox team that’s planning on long-term success — and one that might've seen its timetable altered, however slightly, by a slew of minor league injuries this season — that isn’t a bad argument.

But agents are obviously not proponents of that strategy, one that delays the next big contract.

The game’s most well-known agent, Scott Boras, had plenty of negative things to say about the Cubs when they seemed to use the same strategy in dealing with Kris Bryant back in 2015. Bryant tore it up in the minors a year earlier but wasn’t promoted. A couple weeks into the 2015 campaign — once the extra year was attainable — he was on the major league roster and ended up the National League Rookie of the Year.

For the teams, they're playing within the rules of the system. Agents don’t like those rules. Bryant filed a grievance over that delay, and Jimenez’s agents told Heyman they won’t rule out Jimenez filing one, when the time comes.

The White Sox have insisted the issue of service time isn’t what they’re thinking about, with Hahn talking about Jimenez and other top prospects — such as the recently promoted Michael Kopech — in strictly baseball terms. The team’s decision to promote Kopech last week could be perceived as a validation of that talk. After all, wouldn’t a team with a win-loss record like the White Sox, a team angling for years of sustained contention at the end of this rebuilding effort, want an extra year of control with Kopech, too? But they opted to move him to the majors when they felt he was ready.

In his dealings with the media since the offseason, Jimenez has talked about his readiness though repeatedly said that he understood the decision was not his and that he’d do whatever the White Sox wanted. Then came his piece in the Players’ Tribune titled “I’m Ready,” in which he wrote: “Am I ready for the big leagues? I’m beyond ready. I’ve been waiting to play pro ball in Chicago since I was 11 years old.”

Strong words from both player and agents. The decision, though, is the White Sox to make, and as Hahn has said about every decision he’s made since this rebuild got started, it will be made with the best long-term interest of the team in mind.

Remember That Guy: Rob Mackowiak

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AP

Remember That Guy: Rob Mackowiak

Not too many players from the Chicagoland area make it to the Majors. Oak Lawn’s Rob Mackowiak did. And he even made his way to the South Side to play for the White Sox.  

After attending South Suburban College in South Holland, he was a 53rd round pick of the Pirates in 1996. That’s something that could never exist today. The MLB Draft capped at 50 rounds in 1998, then lowered again to 40 rounds for 2012.

Mackowiak, primarily an outfielder but also occasionally seeing infield duty, worked his way through the minors from 1996-2001. He suited up for the Lynchburg (VA) Hillcats, the Augusta (GA) GreenJackets, the Altoona (PA) Curve and the Nashville Sounds before debuting for Pittsburgh May 19, 2001 at PNC Park against the Brewers. His first career at-bat a strikeout against Ben Sheets. He collected his first career hit a few days later at Veterans Stadium off the Phillies’ Robert Person. His first home run came May 30th in Pittsburgh off the Marlins’ Braden Looper.

He hit .266 in 83 games in 2001, then hit 16 home runs in his first full season the following year. 2003 started out rough, hitting .183/.280/.256 through 44 games before he was able to find his groove at Triple-A Nashville. When he returned to the Pirates on August 20, he went 4 for 5 with 2 home runs. From that point on, he hit a scorching .348/.400/.609 in 100 plate appearances to finish the season.

He had as good a day as you could possibly imagine on May 28, 2004. Early that morning, his son Garrett was born. Then with the hospital band still on his wrist, he headed to the ballpark for a doubleheader against the Cubs. In Game 1, he hit a walkoff grand slam off Chicago closer Joe Borowski. In Game 2 he came off the bench in the 7th inning and hit a game-tying 2-run home run in the 9th off LaTroy Hawkins. If that wasn’t enough, he came back to terrorize the Cubs once again the next day going 2 for 4 with a home run and 5 RBI. A three-game total of 4 for 10 with a double, 3 home runs and 11 RBI (with a walk). He was named co-NL Player of the Week from May 24-30, sharing the honor with teammate Daryle Ward. He finished the year hitting .246/.319/.420 but racked up career highs in home runs (17) and RBI (75). In 2005, his final season in western Pennsylvania, he rebounded with a .272 average and .337 OBP but took a step back in the power numbers (9 HR, 58 RBI).

In 2006 he joined the White Sox in a deal sending Damaso Marte to the Steel City and hit .290/.365/.404 – career highs in BA and OBP. His first home run in a White Sox uniform was a memorable one. On May 22, 2006 the Oakland Athletics visited US Cellular Field. It was the first time Frank Thomas played a game against his formal team, and the Big Hurt delivered with a pair of home runs. Oakland was poised to win the game with a 4-1 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth inning. After Jermaine Dye homered to cut the deficit to 4-2, Juan Uribe doubled which caused manager Ken Macha to summon his closer Huston Street. Ozzie Guillen countered by taking down Brian Anderson and sending up Mackowiak, who delivered a pinch hit 2-run homer to knot the game at four. Pablo Ozuna won the game for the Sox in the 10th with a walkoff bunt scoring A.J. Pierzynski from third.

What was a solid hometown run ended at the 2007 trade deadline when the Sox sent Mackowiak to San Diego for reliever Jon Link. He finished the season with the Padres and played 38 games with the Nationals in 2008 before being released in June. He tried to catch on with minor league stints with the Reds, Mets & Indians in 2008-09 but he never made it back to the show.  He did hit .323/.418/.545 with 14 HR in 82 games with the independent Newark Bears to finish 2009.

Rob Mackowiak’s 8-year MLB career featured a respectable .259/.332/.405 slashline with 64 home runs and 286 RBI in 856 games. In 197 games with the White Sox, he hit .285/.360/.411 with 11 HR and 59 RBI. After his baseball career Mackowiak briefly worked as the hitting coach for the Windy City Thunderbolts (Frontier League). Later, he coached his son’s little league teams and worked as an instructor at Elite Baseball Training in Chicago.

A 53rd round pick. An unforgettable introduction to fatherhood. A Chicago Major League homecoming. Rob Mackowiak’s story is a special one.

Lucas Giolito goes to injured list, Sox bring Carson Fulmer and Ryan Cordell up from Triple-A

Lucas Giolito goes to injured list, Sox bring Carson Fulmer and Ryan Cordell up from Triple-A

Lucas Giolito will miss some time after straining his hamstring in Wednesday's game.

The White Sox placed the right-handed starting pitcher on the 10-day injured list ahead of Thursday's series-opener in Detroit. They also brought up relief pitcher Carson Fulmer and outfielder Ryan Cordell to take the roster spots of Giolito and outfielder Daniel Palka, who was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte on Wednesday night.

Giolito exited Wednesday's start after just 2.2 innings after tweaking his hamstring on a third-inning pitch. He was doing quite well in his second start of the season against the Kansas City Royals, with five strikeouts and no hits allowed before his early departure.

Giolito spoke with reporters Thursday morning in Detroit, saying the strain isn't too serious and that he expects to miss just one or two starts.

As for who will start in Giolito's stead, that remains to be seen. His turn in the rotation won't come until Monday's game that begins a series against the Baltimore Orioles. Fulmer arriving from Charlotte, however, points to Manny Banuelos being taken out of the major league bullpen to start in Giolito's place. Banuelos has had success as the White Sox long man so far this season, with a few effective multi-inning outings under his belt. Fulmer hasn't made a start since the White Sox moved him to the Charlotte bullpen last season but could serve as a replacement long man in the short term. This is Fulmer's second call-up this season, he was on the roster for one day earlier this month, pitching three innings of relief against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Meanwhile, Cordell arrives to take the place of Palka, who picked up his first hit of the season Wednesday after starting in a dreadful 0-for-32 slump. He was sent down after the game with the task of figuring things out at the Triple-A level. While the White Sox could have opted to slide Adam Engel into an everyday role in the big league outfield, it appears Cordell might get his shot at more frequent big league playing time. He was in the starting lineup for Thursday's game against the Tigers. Cordell made the Opening Day roster but only got six at-bats (homering in one and doubling in another) and was sent down to receive some more regular playing time, which he might now get in the majors.

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