Analysis

White Sox: Hahn Takes Another Major Step Towards the Future with Crosstown Blockbuster

On Thursday morning the Chicago White Sox announced that they had come to terms with the Chicago Cubs on a blockbuster deal that will send starting pitcher Jose Quintana to the North Side of town in exchange for multiple prospects, a package of which is headlined by outfielder Eloy Jimenez, the eighth overall prospect in all of baseball (according to MLB Pipeline’s preseason rankings) and Dylan Cease, the Cubs’ second ranked prospect behind Jimenez.

After notching two more top-100 prospect feathers in his cap this morning, White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn has firmly cemented a bright future for the Chicago White Sox. To the small group of remaining non-believers, it’s time to dispose of those tin foil caps you’ve been sporting since last December, and get on board the rebuild train. To the group of Cubs and Sox fans that balked at the idea of the two clubs making a deal, remember that the crosstown rivalry only really exists in our minds for the most part.

More than just snagging another pair of top-tier prospects this morning, Rick Hahn showed his brilliance once again as he negotiated the best possible deal that the market could offer. Of all of the teams that were bidding for Quintana’s services, no club was ready to offer up a prospect that matches the talent and ceiling of Eloy Jimenez. Quickly going over the top-ranked prospects of those teams that were said to be seriously interested in Quintana (Francis Martes – HOU, Lewis Brinson – MIL, Gleyber Torres – NYY), you would be hard-pressed to find a better prospect than Eloy Jimenez.

The two sides of town were perfect trade partners from the start, with the Cubs tossing a stick of dynamite down their pipeline to save the present, and the White Sox cementing their future by sacrificing their present.

Eloy Jimenez, 20, signed with the Cubs as an international free agent in 2013, and was most recently residing with the Cubs’ High-A affiliate, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans where he is hitting .271 with a .351/.490/.841 slash line through 42 games this season. Jimenez has eight home runs, 32 RBI, six doubles and a pair of triples to show through his first 155 at-bats this season, and has only struck out 35 times while walking 18 times.

Source: Denis Poroy/Getty Images North America

Jimenez has an incredibly high ceiling, and is seen by many as a player that will find a permanent home within the middle of the White Sox order in the next couple of seasons. Many scouts have said that Jimenez has MVP potential, making Jimenez potentially the biggest impact player of all of the acquisitions thus far. In fact, many scouts have said that they would not be surprised if Jimenez pans out to be better than Moncada in the long run.

Sliding in right behind the afformentioned Yoan Moncada in the White Sox farm rankings, Jimenez possesses lighting bat speed complimented by a heap of raw power that scores him a 60 grade in the power category on nearly every scouting report available. The really special thing about that fact is that Jimenez doesn’t force the issue with hitting home runs, and uses all fields well, letting the long-balls come naturally, and limiting his strikeouts in the process.

While Jimenez will likely be a corner outfielder in Chicago with the presence of Luis Robert in the system, Jimenez holds a 50 field grade and a 60 throw grade, meaning the kid can glove it and throw it just as good as he can hit. Don’t believe me that a 6-foot-four slugger could play plus level defense? Head over to YouTube and check out Jimenez put on a offensive and defensive clinic as a 19-year old at the 2016 MLB All-Star Futures Game.

With a log-jam of outfielders at Winston-Salem right now, there’s a strong possibility that Jimenez is assigned to the White Sox Double-A affiliate, the Birmingham Barons.

The White Sox also acquired Dylan Cease, the Cubs second ranked prospect and the 63rd overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline. A complement to the White Sox farm-system, Cease checks in at number eight on the White Sox top-30 list this afternoon, six spots lower than this morning when he was on the North Side of town.

As soon as you watch Cease throw, you know why Rick Hahn targeted him in this deal, with a fastball sitting anywhere from 95-98 mph and touching triple digits at times, Cease compliments the arsenal of flamethrowers that Rick Hahn is building throughout the pipeline. Cease has a 70 grade on his heater according to MLB Pipeline, and compliments it with a nasty curveball. His curveball could use more consistency, but when it is on, it is as wicked as his fastball.

Oh, did I mention that his fastball has a ton of life and sinking action on it, even at his high velocity? Well it does, and it’s extremely difficult for hitters to square up because of such. Through 51.2 innings of work this season in A-ball, Cease has a 2.79 ERA with 74 strikeouts to just 26 walks. Hitters are only mustering up a .214 opposing batting average, and Cease’s WHIP is sitting pretty at 1.26 at the moment.

The addition of Cease gives the White Sox another front-end starting pitching prospect, while making it all the more likely that Carson Fulmer is slid to the bullpen for the long-term at some point.

The White Sox also took a flyer on a pair of lesser known prospects in Matt Rose and Bryant Flete. Rose was the Cubs’ 11th round selection in the 2015 MLB Draft and is a 6-foot-four first-baseman out of Georgia State. Rose played with Jimenez most recently in Myrtle Beach, and has a career .241 average with 35 home runs and 134 runs driven in over the course of 211 games in the Cubs minor-league system.

The final piece of the deal this morning was 24-year old infielder Bryant Flete, a Venezuelan native who the Cubs signed in January of 2012. Flete has played 432 games in the Cubs minor-league system, with his most recent stop coming at Myrtle Beach like Rose and Jimenez. Flete is hitting .306 through his first 70 games of the 2017 campaign with Myrtle Beach, complimented by six home runs and 37 RBI for the Pelicans. Flete is a career .260 hitter during his time within the Cubs’ system.

The Chicago White Sox now boast eight top-100 prospects within their farm system, with this morning’s deal giving them another uber-talented positional player to complement their solid stockpile of minor-league arms.

The White Sox top three prospects (Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech) were all on display this past Sunday at the MLB All-Star Futures Game as well, fitting for a club that is staring down such a fruitful future after the work that GM Rick Hahn has done overhauling the entire farm system in a matter of roughly 13 months.

 

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