By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — The man is ready for big league baseball.
That’s what 20-year-old White Sox outfielder prospect Eloy Jimenez emphasized Tuesday as he met with the media before the scheduled game between the White Sox and Cleveland Indians at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The centerpiece of the blockbuster trade that sent Jose Quintana to the Cubs in mid-July, Jimenez has dominated at two levels in 2017. He hit .312 with 19 home runs and 65 RBIs in time split between Class-A and Double-A. Throw in a .947 OPS, and you have one of the most interesting prospects in the game.
“Yes, I want to be the best,” Jimenez said. “I want to be the best player on the field. I work hard at it. I don’t want to be just another player. I want to be the best player.”
The White Sox moved Jimenez up to Double-A Birmingham in August. In 18 games there, he hit .353. The team will most likely start him in Double-A again in 2018, and Jimenez will also go to the Dominican Republic for winter ball before spring training begins next February.
“I like to have fun when I play,” Jimenez said. “I have learned to slow it down a little this year. This is a game, though, and you must enjoy it.”
The White Sox are licking their chops in anticipation of Jimenez’s ascension to the majors.
“Meeting with all of you and coming to Chicago where they hope to play is valuable for him,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He was all smiles in the clubhouse with all the guys. He is a pretty articulate young man. He speaks both English and Spanish. We saw a nice demeanor. He is pretty calm and pretty even-keeled.”
White Sox coaches and players, including infielder Yoan Moncada, gave Jimenez a lot of attention Tuesday. Just two years older than Jimenez, Moncada looks to the future and what may be an explosive lineup built around the two Cuban natives.
“I met him two years ago in the Futures Game and then we played together again in it this year,” Moncada said. “We haven’t talked a lot, but I am hoping for him and I and the organization that we are here together playing for a long time.”
As for Jimenez, he believes he’s ready to play in Chicago. The White Sox believe Jimenez is nearly big league ready, with just another few months in the minors for more development.
“I truly believe I could be playing here right now,” he said confidently. “All I can do is work hard every day and try to learn more about the game. That will put me in the position to force (the front office) to make a decision.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.