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White Sox faithful eye Eloy ahead of '19 camp

MLB's No. 3 overall prospect arrives in Arizona with lofty expectations
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- The legend of Eloy Jimenez has already grown to a lofty level, and the 22-year-old outfielder has yet to see one pitch during a regular season White Sox contest.

With the rebuilding White Sox struggling through a 62-100 performance during the 2018 season, an understandable amount of attention was paid to Jimenez's daily prowess and progress at Triple-A Charlotte. Fans marveled at his swing, his consistency and his ability to hit with power to all fields. Fans turned in a more upset direction when Jimenez was passed over for a September callup to the Majors.

CHICAGO -- The legend of Eloy Jimenez has already grown to a lofty level, and the 22-year-old outfielder has yet to see one pitch during a regular season White Sox contest.

With the rebuilding White Sox struggling through a 62-100 performance during the 2018 season, an understandable amount of attention was paid to Jimenez's daily prowess and progress at Triple-A Charlotte. Fans marveled at his swing, his consistency and his ability to hit with power to all fields. Fans turned in a more upset direction when Jimenez was passed over for a September callup to the Majors.

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But with White Sox position players scheduled to report to Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz. on Feb. 18, the wide array of talents for the No. 3 overall prospect, per MLB Pipeline, once again will be on display. Only this time, Jimenez will be taking part in Cactus League action with his big league time just a short period away.

"I don't want to rush my time," Jimenez said. "I don't want to rush my development process. When the moment comes, I'm going to be there, and I'm going to be ready to do my best."

Jimenez came to the White Sox on July 13, 2017, in a five-player trade with the Cubs centered upon left-handed hurler Jose Quintana, who has helped the Cubs to two playoff appearances. Right-hander Dylan Cease also moved to the White Sox in the deal and could be a significant part of their rotation at some point in '19 and for what they hope is many years to come.

In Jimenez, though, the White Sox feel they have a rebuild fulcrum -- a true superstar -- even without converting on signing premium free-agent targets such as Manny Machado or Bryce Harper.

Over stints with Charlotte and Double-A Birmingham last year, Jimenez slashed .337/.384/.577 with 22 home runs, 28 doubles and 75 RBIs. He dealt with a left adductor strain, a left pectoral strain and left patella tendinitis in '18, the latter sidelining him during Spring Training, but he feels good going into the '19 season.

"I've been working in the gym for getting stronger and that's one of the goals this year: Getting healthy and playing the whole season," Jimenez said. "I've been working hard every year."

"His offseason has been excellent in terms of his discipline and this goes back to Day 1 of his offseason," White Sox director of player development Chris Getz said. "He has really taken his nutrition seriously. His body is in great shape and I think we will see that on the field this year."

Defensive improvement became one of the areas stressed by the White Sox when the outfielder wasn't called up at the end of '18. But as Getz pointed out, as part of this ongoing rebuild, the White Sox are looking for well-rounded players who are as sharp as possible in all facets of the game when they arrive.

One of the rebuild benefits is that Jimenez won't be the first top young player to join the White Sox and certainly won't be the last. He might be the leader of what the organization hopes is a prolonged championship run.

"Just be one of the best players in the league. That is my expectation," Jimenez said. "Play hard and one day be one of the best players. I've always had that confidence. And I know I can."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Eloy Jimenez