As many have heard, Rick Hahn and Theo Epstein just pulled off the biggest trade since the Chris Sale deal, and the first inter-Chicago deal since a minor pitcher swap in 2006.
The White Sox sent prized southpaw Jose Quintana to the North Side, while Rick Hahn and Co. received the Cubs top two prospects, outfielder Eloy Jimenez and right-handed pitcher Dylan Cease, as well as two lesser-known minor league infielders, Matt Rose and Bryant Flete. In this article, we’re going to examine Eloy Jiménez and where he fits in with the rebuilding White Sox.
First, let’s get to know the new #2 prospect in the White Sox system. Jimenez, who comes from the Dominican Republic, is a 20 year-old, right-handed left fielder. Standing at 6’4″, 205 pounds, Jiménez has the build of a power hitter, a label which he has lived up to. MLB Pipeline ranks him as the eighth best prospect in all of baseball, whereas Baseball America places him at #5 in their recent midseason prospect rankings.
Yes, Jimenez possesses a powerful bat, but there’s much more to him. MLB Pipeline does give him a 60 grade for his power tool, with a 55 mark for hitting, a 60 for his throwing arm, and a 50 for his speed (Prospects are graded on a 20-80 scale, with 50 being average). Jimenez needs some improvement in his fielding, which is evaluated at a 45, but there’s no other weaknesses in his profile.
Thus far, Jimenez has backed up his high grades. With around two more years of development to go, he’s posted solid numbers with Class High-A Myrtle Beach. In 42 contests, Jiménez is batting .271 with an OBP of .351 and a slugging percentage of .490. 35 strikeouts in 174 plate appearances is a mediocre 20% strikeout rate, so White Sox fans shouldn’t be concerned that Jiménez is a swing-and-a-miss type player. Similarly, 18 walks is a decent, but not an overly impressive, figure.
Specifically, Jimenez does an adequate job of hitting to all fields. As you can tell from the spray chart, however, he generates most of his power from pulling the ball, but has the ability to blast some opposite field homers. Willman also gives us an example of Jimenez’s immense strength: Yes, he really did hit a ball almost 120 MPH.
Moving forward, it makes sense that Rick Hahn nabbed an outfielder for a headliner. Of the White Sox’s top 10 prospects, Luis Robert is the only outfielder. Not to mention Hahn drafted infielders with his first two picks in the 2017 amateur draft. While this is assuming a lot of pieces fall the right way, the White Sox’s outfield projects perfectly in 2020: Jiménez in left, Robert in center, and Avisail Garcia patrolling right field. Now, it’s doubtful that that exact scenario comes to be, so reassuringly Jimenez could potentially switch to right field with some work. He already has the arm for it.
Jimenez also molds nicely with the Spanish-speaking prospects that are certain to be a a big part of the future on the South Side, with names like Yoan Moncada, Luis Robert, and Reynaldo Lopez. Lopez even comes from the Dominican Republic like Jimenez. We all know Moncada has extraordinary powers, but he may be able to see into the future as well, as he’s shown here developing his friendship with Jimenez earlier this week at the Futures Game in Miami.
Finally, the timing is compatible with the outlook of the rebuild, as Jimenez is projected to make it to the show in 2019. Of course, things could change, but he’s developing nicely and doesn’t have any major flaws like excessive strikeouts or a dearth of walks.
Yes, now is a time to mourn the parting of Jose Quintana, but Sox fans can rest assured that they can look forward to one of the most powerful, promising prospects in the game. For a general review of the trade, look at Patrick Flowers’ analysis here.