By Bruce Levine–
(670 The Score) As the next wave of talented prospects moves through the White Sox farm system, the player who will be watched most closely is 21-year-old outfielder Eloy Jimenez, who has a legitimate chance to reach the big leagues in 2018.READ MORE: Red Cross Day Of Giving: Here's How You Can Help!
The jewel return in the White Sox’s trade of left-hander Jose Quintana to the Cubs last June, Jimenez is a consensus top-five prospect in baseball. He hit .312 with 19 homers, 65 RBIs and a .947 OPS in in 369 plate appearances across two levels in 2017, when he finished the season at Double-A.
“I can’t wait to get to the bigs,” Jimenez said at SoxFest last Saturday. “When the call comes, I will be ready for it. I feel I am close to getting to the big leagues. I don’t make that decision. My job is to work hard and get there that way.”
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has been impressed. And while he hasn’t set a rough timeline for when he believes Jimenez could arrive in Chicago, he knows it could be sooner than later.
“Eloy has pushed it a little bit,” Hahn said. “The one thing you don’t know for sure about a player when you trade for them is makeup. Our scouts do a really good job of that. We had really strong reports on Eloy in that area. He has surpassed those projections and then some. He has a great work ethic. Eloy has great leadership ability. He gets along so well with his teammates.
“Eloy has only 75 appearances above the Class-A level. If he spends the entire season at Double-A and performs like he did the three weeks he was there last season, that is really, really good. The good ones, however, have a way of changing your timeline on that (big league promotion). It is not going to shock me if over the summer Eloy forces our hand a bit.”READ MORE: California, North Carolina Now Off Chicago's Travel Advisory, No New States Added But 38 Remain
At the White Sox’s hitters’ camp in Arizona a couple weeks ago, Jimenez’s power and talent was on full display for the coaching staff.
“I can only go on BP so far,” White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson said. “I have not seen him take live at-bats in games except on video. I can tell you about his advanced mental approach. The thought process is impressive. I have watched him stay even-keel after bad plate appearances. The young man is just as impressive as a person. He is said to be able to take the good and the bad and keep moving. That is one of the traits the coaches have observed about him.”
The raw power of the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Jimenez is what stands out to so many.
“He has got some real power,” Steverson rsaid. “You can’t teach that. He has very good hands. Yeah, he has really good hands and a good base and balance. I don’t think he is just a power guy, I think everyone is more excited that he is a hitter. I just like hitters. If you can hit a home run with your usual hitting style, great. He has both tools. That is the best attribute he has now.”
A Dominican Republic native, Jimenez has also been impactful with his teammates off of the field. With a lot of work, he’s closer to mastering the English language. That was a goal from the time he signed with the Cubs at age 16. Jimenez has been compared to David Ortiz at a similar point in his development with the Twins organization, and some have attached the gregarious “Big Papi” personality to Jimenez as well.
“I have been able to meet a lot of the players in the organization last week,” Jimenez said. “They mostly have been traded here like me. They feel the same as I do. The Sox have made us all family. That is something really good for all of us.”MORE NEWS: Red Cross Honors 16-Year-Old Hero Blair Holt, Who Lost His Life While Shielding Classmate From Gunfire
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.