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Jimenez among 16 to receive Minors promotion

White Sox remain high on Kopech despite recent speed bump
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- White Sox director of player development Chris Getz admitted some of the 16 players who received Minor League promotions Thursday were close to Major League ready during a conference call to discuss the moves.

Outfielder Eloy Jimenez ranks as one of those players as he moves from Double-A Birmingham to Triple-A Charlotte, although Getz had a brief Jim Mora reaction when asked if Jimenez would need just a few games at Charlotte before being summoned to the White Sox.

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CHICAGO -- White Sox director of player development Chris Getz admitted some of the 16 players who received Minor League promotions Thursday were close to Major League ready during a conference call to discuss the moves.

Outfielder Eloy Jimenez ranks as one of those players as he moves from Double-A Birmingham to Triple-A Charlotte, although Getz had a brief Jim Mora reaction when asked if Jimenez would need just a few games at Charlotte before being summoned to the White Sox.

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"He's never played at Triple-A. Now, do I have full confidence that he's going to go up there and hit? Sure. I absolutely do," Getz said. "If he continues to do so and forces our hand, we're certainly going to have that conversation about him coming to Chicago. Let's just get him in the lineup tonight and see what he can do."

For the record, the White Sox No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline was hitting third and playing right field for Charlotte in his International League debut. As a member of the Barons, the Southern League All-Star hit .317 with 10 home runs, 15 doubles, 42 RBIs and a .925 OPS.

Getz listed off accomplishments for Jimenez to date, ranging from hammering fastballs to maturity beyond his 21 years to controlling the zone, driving the ball and making good decisions in the box. Sounds big league ready, right?

Well, there are reasons why this development plan required Jimenez to stop at Charlotte.

"Double-A, historically, is a fastball-heavy league -- certainly the Southern League," Getz said. "You'll get a lot of high starting prospects at that level that are still kind of learning to command their fastball, meaning they're using their fastball often.

"Obviously, he's responded well to that. Now at Charlotte, you're going to run into guys that have a little more experience. Some may have pitched in the big leagues, some might have been labeled those 4-A types. But what comes with that is more offspeed pitches, pitching backwards, being able to locate a little bit more.

"It will be interesting to see how he does respond with guys attacking him a little bit differently," Getz added. "We as an organization believe he's going to be able to accomplish pretty much the same type of things he's been accomplishing at Charlotte."

Catcher Seby Zavala, who moved from Birmingham to Charlotte, received plaudits from Getz for the way he handles a pitching staff. But when asked for a surprise among this list, Getz turned to Dylan Cease, the right-handed starter jumping from Class A Advanced Winston-Salem to Birmingham.

"Heading into the season, his first full year with us, the focus was: every fifth day, a full season's worth of innings," said Getz of Cease. "He's more or less forced our hand. He's really come on; he's pitching with four pitches, four-plus pitches. He's commanding the ball, very mature kid. And he's certainly ready for the next challenge at Double-A."

Video: Top Prospects: Michael Kopech, RHP, White Sox

Getz maintains high level of confidence in Kopech

Michael Kopech had allowed 14 earned runs in 11 innings -- along with 17 walks against 14 strikeouts -- over his last three starts for Charlotte before getting back on track Wednesday night.

"Last night, I was really happy with what he was able to do," said Getz of Kopech, who allowed two earned runs over five innings Wednesday, with six strikeouts and four walks. "He did have a little bit of a hiccup, getting a little erratic. He was getting a little quick in his delivery, his lower half wasn't picking up with his upper half. The command of his pitches was not there.

"But last night, he was in the zone, commanding the fastball. His body was under control. He threw some good breaking pitches, a couple of good changeups. He was back to being the competitor we are accustomed to. We are hoping to build off of this outing."

Getz has few doubts about Kopech's future as a major part of the White Sox rotation.

"Listen, he's going to find his way to the big leagues. He's going to be an impact frontline-type starter. I'm very confident in that," Getz said. "Just like a lot of great players, sometimes it's a meandering path. And to say that he's gone off track is not fair, because it's only been a couple of outings. I think he's in a really good spot."

Promoted to Charlotte
OF Eloy Jimenez
RHP Ian Hamilton
C Seby Zavala  

Promoted to Birmingham
RHP Dylan Cease
LHP Bernardo Flores
RHP Matt Foster
RHP Zach Thompson
OF Luis Basabe
OF Joel Booker
OF Alex Call  

Promoted to Winston-Salem
RHP Lincoln Henzman
RHP Blake Battenfield
RHP Tyler Johnson
INF Laz Rivera
OF Luis Gonzalez
OF Luis Robert

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