GLENDALE, Ariz. -- At some point in the not too distant future, Eloy Jimenez will be a fixture in left field and stationed in the middle of the lineup for the Chicago White Sox.
That time will not begin at the outset for the 2019 season for the No. 3 prospect in all of baseball per MLB Pipeline, as Jimenez was part of nine roster moves made by the White Sox prior to Wednesday night’s game against the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch. Jimenez was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte along with right-handers Dylan Cease and Jordan Stephens and catcher Seby Zavala.
Outfielder Micker Adolfo was optioned to Double-A Birmingham, while catcher Zack Collins, right-handers Jimmy Lambert and Donn Roach and outfielder Luis Robert were reassigned to Minor League camp. Despite the plethora of high-end prospects on this list, the focus fell upon on Jimenez.
“We all know the talent he has, the kind of personality that he has,” said White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, through interpreter Billy Russo. “We are all very excited about him, and I don't see any reason why he can't succeed as soon as he gets here.”
“Obviously we're still extremely bullish on his future,” said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn on Jimenez. “We think he's going to be an impactful White Sox for a long time, and sending him out really doesn't change our long-term view of him. He responded very well with some of the things we talked about to him last season.”
Jimenez came into camp in great shape, and Hahn said it showed when the 22-year-old was playing. His defense remains “a work in progress,” according to Hahn, but Jimenez is getting more comfortable in left field.
His Cactus League offensive numbers were far from overwhelming, as Jimenez finished 4-for-26 with one home run, three RBIs, nine strikeouts and no walks. The strikeout total caused a little concern for the always gregarious Jimenez, but otherwise he put as little credence in Spring Training numbers as the White Sox, especially coming off a 2018 season where Jimenez slashed .337/.384/.577 with 22 homers, 28 doubles and 75 RBIs between stops at Birmingham and Charlotte.
“I give him a lot of credit for being not only fully aware of where he's at with his timing being off but being honest with himself and honest with everyone else about how he felt at the plate,” Hahn said. “That's only going to improve with repetition and zero concerns about where he's headed.”
“He was still working and trying to get his timing together,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “Working very hard on his defense. Just time for him to get there and get himself on track and get ready for the upcoming season.”
With the moves, the White Sox have 47 players remaining in camp: 25 pitchers, four catchers, nine infielders and nine outfielders. But these prospect moves have a different feel than the past couple of years.
Cease (No. 21 overall prospect, No. 3 White Sox), Collins (No. 12 White Sox) and Zavala (No. 22 White Sox) all could join Jimenez in the big leagues this season. Robert (No. 40 overall, No. 4 White Sox), Adolfo (No. 8 White Sox) and Lambert (No. 19 White Sox) are not far behind.
“It is different. Yes, absolutely,” Renteria said. “We are in a very good place in terms of the players we have in camp now that we’ve sent out. The future is bright for the Chicago White Sox. We’ll be seeing some of these young men here in the near future and contributing to us moving forward as an organization.”
“They're going to succeed in every league they're going to play,” Abreu said. “We all know the talent they have, and hopefully we see them soon here.”