White Sox

Here's where your favorite White Sox prospects are starting the 2018 season

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AP

Here's where your favorite White Sox prospects are starting the 2018 season

The Major League Baseball season is a week old. But Opening Day in the minors comes Thursday.

In the White Sox loaded farm system, there are highly touted prospects scattered across the organization. With their campaigns getting underway Thursday, here's where each of your favorite White Sox prospects are starting the 2018 campaign.

Winston-Salem Dash (Class A)

Dylan Cease: The "other guy" acquired in that midseason trade with the Cubs last summer, Cease had a great spring, pitching 6.1 shutout innings in three Cactus League appearances.

Dane Dunning: Things didn't go so well this spring, with Dunning posting a 7.00 ERA (seven runs in nine innings) during Cactus League play, but he was good at Winston-Salem last year, with a 3.51 ERA in 118 innings.

Gavin Sheets: Last year's second-round draft pick (after the White Sox took Burger in the first round), Sheets slashed .266/.346/.365 in 52 games with Kannapolis last season.

Micker Adolfo: Adolfo's health status will be of great interest this season after he hurt his elbow during the spring, but he's playing through it as the White Sox hope he can avoid surgery.

Luis Alexander Basabe: A pretty good spring flew under the radar, with Basabe slashing .273/.333/.545 in 22 at-bats in Cactus League play.

​Luis Robert: He'll be out for a significant stretch as he recovers from a torn ligament in his thumb, suffered while sliding into second during a Cactus League game — the same game he later homered in.

Blake Rutherford: Acquired in that seven-player trade with the New York Yankees, Rutherford went hitless in seven Cactus League at-bats after slashing a disappointing .213/.289/.254 in 30 games at Kannapolis in 2017.

Birmingham Barons (Double-A)

Spencer Adams: Adams will be back at Birmingham after posting a 4.42 ERA in 152.2 innings there last season.

Ian Clarkin: Three outings and 5.2 innings are all Clarkin got during the spring, though he didn't allow a single run. He'll move up to Double-A after making just three starts with Winston-Salem last season.

Alec Hansen: He made just one appearance during Cactus League play, giving up three runs in 1.2 innings, but that won't dampen the excitement after he struck out 191 hitters between three minor league levels last year. He'll be here eventually after getting completely healthy in Arizona.

Zack Collins: There wasn't much success to be had in just 11 spring at-bats for Collins, and he'll get a more lengthy crack at Double-A after playing just 12 games there in 2017.

Seby Zavala: What a catching tandem it'll be in Birmingham when Collins gets paired with Zavala, who slashed .282/.353/.499 between two levels of Class A last season.

​Eloy Jimenez: Though he seemed ready to pick up where he left off in the spring — two homers and a triple in seven at-bats — a strained pec will keep Jimenez out of action as the season begins.

Charlotte Knights (Triple-A)

Zack Burdi: He'll stay sidelined as he battles back from surgery last season.

Michael Kopech: The star of the show down at Charlotte, the White Sox top-ranked pitching prospect will have plenty to work on after a mixed bag of a spring that featured an 11.57 ERA in seven innings.

Thyago Vieira: A flamethrower picked up in a trade with the Seattle Mariners, Vieira was a trendy pick to make the big league bullpen, but he'll start at Charlotte after giving up four runs and getting just three outs during spring training.

Casey Gillaspie: He had a rough spring, hitting just .189 in 37 at-bats.

Ryan Cordell: Another popular pick to make the Opening Day roster, Cordell had a great spring, slashing .317/.417/.512 with eight RBIs and eight runs scored in 41 at-bats.

Charlie Tilson: Injured ever since joining the White Sox organization in 2016, a finally healthy Tilson picked up just three hits in 18 spring at-bats.

Rebuild, meet overdrive: Eloy Jimenez provides best snapshot of White Sox progress yet

Rebuild, meet overdrive: Eloy Jimenez provides best snapshot of White Sox progress yet

A rebuild, White Sox fans know all too well, takes place over a lengthy period of time. Progression, development, these aren’t things easily pointed to as a single moment.

Allow Eloy Jimenez to provide an exception to the rule.

The White Sox contention window might not have been yanked open with one broken-bat homer to beat the Crosstown-rival Cubs on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field. But Jimenez’s game-winner was the best single image yet of the direction Rick Hahn’s rebuilding project is moving.

Surely you don’t need a refresher on the highlight seen ‘round Chicagoland by now, but take a second to realize how incredible, how unscriptable it was: Jimenez, traded away by the Cubs two summers ago, up in a tie game in the ninth inning in his first game at the ballpark he always assumed would be where he’d be playing his big league games. Well, he finally played a big league game inside the Friendly Confines — and he delivered an unforgettable moment for the team on the other side of town.

Yeah, maybe it’s perhaps a little hyperbolic, maybe it’s a pure reaction to the moment, but: Rebuild, meet overdrive.

“We’re playing in the city of champions,” manager Rick Renteria said after the game. “The White Sox were champions at one time, the Cubbies have been champions. You have a history of basketball and football. It’s the city of champions, so a lot is expected of them. They’re starting to embrace it, understand it and revel in it.”

Talk of championships might seem a tad premature for these White Sox, still under .500 even after Jimenez blasted them to dramatic victory on the North Side. But then again, that’s been the end goal of the rebuild from Day 1. Rick Hahn has said repeatedly that the rebuild won’t be a success unless there’s a parade.

Jimenez’s homer came in June, not October. But it cranked the dial even further on the blindingly bright future these White Sox are building.

Lucas Giolito is providing examples of progress every time he steps on the mound these days. Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert and Dylan Cease are doing their part, too. But no one has been as central a part of the future than Jimenez, the guy who’s supposed to be the middle-of-the-order power bat in this lineup for the next decade. The way he delivered Tuesday made for a flag-planting type moment on the White Sox journey up baseball’s mountain.

“We all knew the talent was there from the get-go as soon as the club acquired him. It was just a matter of time for him to get to the big leagues, get comfortable in the big leagues,” Giolito said after the game. “I think he's getting comfortable with the big leagues a lot faster than I would've predicted. He's a really, really good player, great teammate. Can't say enough good things about Eloy. He really delivered for us tonight, and it was a big one.”

Again, it’s June. It’s a game against a National League opponent, not exactly the kind of game that helps chew up the deficit separating the White Sox and the out-of-this-world Minnesota Twins at the top of the AL Central. But within these city limits, it’s hard to imagine a bigger stage than this.

The media swarmed Jimenez postgame, causing him to express some shock at the number of cameras and recorders suddenly thrust in his face. He’s been asked a million times what it would be like to play in Wrigley Field. When he rounded first base, the smile on his face — a permanent fixture — was enormous. He gave a huge clap when he touched home plate. Were the emotions what he’d been dreaming of?

“Yes,” was the only verbal response. The body language told a much richer story. He let out ebullient sounds that brought to mind Tim “The Toolman” Taylor. The smile nearly got too big for his face.

These were the Cubs he just beat, a team so often the comparison point for these White Sox. They’re trying to find their way through the same total rebuild the Cubs went through. And without these Cubs, the White Sox might not be as far along as they currently are. Thanks to that trade, which brought Jimenez and Dylan Cease into starring roles in this rebuild, the championship future Hahn has envisioned looks realistic. It looks closer.

The North Siders came out the other end of a rebuild champions. The White Sox have their eyes on the same result.

It might not happen tomorrow, even if the bright spots are shining through now more than ever. But it’s something the White Sox are fully chasing. This is the city of champions, after all.

“It means a lot because we’re fighting for a spot in the playoffs,” Jimenez said. “We have been playing really good and I think that was a good victory for us.”

A good victory for now. A good victory for later. A good victory, indeed.

That was a storybook ending. And it’s only the end of Act I, Scene I.

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Eloy Jimenez drives to Wrigley with Chuck, then drives a dagger into the Cubs hearts

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Eloy Jimenez drives to Wrigley with Chuck, then drives a dagger into the Cubs hearts

For his first regular season game ever against the Cubs, Eloy Jimenez got a ride from Chuck Garfien which started at Guaranteed Rate Field, stopped at Wrigley Field and ended with Jimenez hitting the game-winning home run in the 9th. First, Vinnie Duber joins Chuck to discuss how Jimenez homered despite breaking his bat (2:00). On the ride, Jimenez' talks about playing at Wrigley (8:20), what Cubs fans say to him now that he's on the White Sox (10:00), how he persuaded Rick Renteria to let him pinch-hit against the Cubs in a spring training game in 2018, and homered (11:30), what his mother thinks of him saying "Hi Mom" (14:30), Jimenez sings hip-hop (17:40), why a home run against the Cubs would mean so much (24:50), his reaction when the Cubs traded him to the White Sox (27:20) and more.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: