I’ll be completely honest, I can’t remember the last time I paid attention to White Sox prospects before the 2017 season. Sure I was aware of some of them and I may have checked on them a couple of times throughout the season but I wasn’t waking up every morning to pour over box scores and read articles from minor league blogs I’d never heard of before. I certainly have never searched for game results and box scores of the Dominican Winter League to check on a White Sox prospect… but that is exactly what Eloy Jimenez has me doing nearly a month after the conclusion of the regular season.
The July 13 trade that saw Jose Quintana dealt to the Cubs in exchange for four prospects sent Sox and Cubs fans spiraling off on a season-long quest to gain an edge in the age-old “my team won the trade” debate. Time will only tell which team truly “won” the trade but from the looks of things, at least at this point, it’s safe to say both teams have reaped some benefits. Quintana’s contributions to the Cubs gave them the extra help they needed to get them all the way to Game 5 of the NLCS, even if his performance on the mound in that game ultimately sent them to clear out their lockers. No, his two innings of work didn’t quite help the Cubs fans in their side of the debate, and while the Sox won’t see their return on investment for another couple of years they can at least start to see some promising results.
Outfielder Eloy Jimenez, pitcher Dylan Cease, first baseman Matt Rose, and middle infielder Bryant Flete made their way to the White Sox in return for Quintana. Cease could be a contributor fairly soon, and Rose and Flete both look promising in their own right, but the prospect in that package that all White Sox fans are looking forward is Eloy Jimenez. Jimenez was named Cubs Minor League Player of the Year in 2016 and won various player of the week and player of the month honors along the way. Seeing a guy of this caliber join the already elite ranks of the White Sox prospect list is, to put it lightly, exciting.
Jimenez made a joke out of single-A advanced ball, putting up a slash line of .345/.410/.682 and an OPS of 1.092 in 29 games with Winston-Salem. Eleven doubles, one triple, eight home runs, 26 RBI, and twelve walks among other stats made for an impressive showing. He seemed to be in the headlines every day and Sox fans on social media went crazy for him and his quick promotion was inevitable.
With each step in a minor league system the competition only gets better and for Jimenez to continue on his single-A pace against double-A talent is impressive. Eloy’s promotion to double-A Birmingham saw more of the same but in a smaller sample size. A slash line of .353/.397/.559 and an OPS of .956 in 18 games with the Barons proved that it wasn’t just the level of baseball he was playing, this guy is for real. His final stats for the 2017 season across all Minor League levels, Cubs organization included, saw a slash line of .312/.379/.568 and a .947 OPS, 19 home runs, 68 RBI, 72 strikeouts, 35 walks, 22 doubles, 3 triples, and 54 runs scored in 333 at-bats across 89 games.
His production hasn’t stopped there, though. Jimenez continues to post big numbers in the Dominican Winter League. As of Sunday night his stats through seven games show no sign of him slowing down – he’s out there to keep making a name for himself. So far at the plate he’s 13-for-30, good for a .433 batting average, with three doubles, one triple, two home runs, eight RBI, and a stole base. Reading those stats should put a smile on the face of even the most skeptical of White Sox fans, the ones still claiming the Sox never should have traded Jose Quintana in the first place.
One thing is for certain at this point: Quintana is watching the World Series from his couch, just like the rest of baseball, but on a field somewhere in the Dominican Republic Eloy Jimenez is working on becoming the next big name in White Sox baseball and fans have Rick Hahn to thank.