CHICAGO -- It wasn’t long ago that José Abreu was breaking into the big leagues as a 27-year old rookie looking to adjust to Major League pitching. Now the elder statesman and leader of a young White Sox club, Abreu can see the team’s young hitters making the same leap,
CHICAGO -- It wasn’t long ago that José Abreu was breaking into the big leagues as a 27-year old rookie looking to adjust to Major League pitching. Now the elder statesman and leader of a young White Sox club, Abreu can see the team’s young hitters making the same leap, despite the team's recent struggles.
Tim Anderson and Yoán Moncada have gotten off to hot starts for Chicago, giving an offense that was 24th in runs scored last season a much-needed jolt.
“They are playing very well right now, and we need them to. To be the team we want to be both now and in the future, they’re going to be a big part of that,” Abreu said in Spanish. “It feels good to see them playing this way to start the season. We know the players they are and the players they can be. You can see the work they put in.”
Coming into 2018, the White Sox young hitters had shown flashes of what they could do, but they had also taken their lumps adjusting to Major League pitching. So far in '19, they’re starting to adjust back.
Anderson is second in the American League in hitting with a .383 batting average and leads the Majors with nine stolen bases. Moncada leads the White Sox in homers, runs scored, is second to Abreu in RBIs and is tied for the fourth-highest average exit velocity (95.2 mph) in MLB, per Statcast.
White Sox top prospect Eloy Jiménez is already adjusting in his first month in the big leagues as pitchers have looked to get him out using a heavy diet of curveballs and sliders.
Jimenez has seen more breaking balls than any other Sox hitter this season (46.1 percent), per Statcast. But baseball’s No. 3 overall prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, hasn’t been overmatched. Jimenez has recorded six multi-hit games over his first 20 games, including his first two career home runs on April 12 against the Yankees.
“I’m glad people in Chicago are excited to see him. We are excited, too,” Abreu said. “Yes, there are expectations, but he can’t change that. He’s a ballplayer. A good ballplayer. He’s going to be a really good player and he’s going to help us win a lot of games this year and in the future.”
Jimenez’s rookie-standout contemporaries, like the Mets’ Pete Alonso and the Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr., have gotten off to fast starts to begin their careers, only fueling fans' and teammates' desire to see him succeed.
“It’s really nice when you have people like that who want to work with you, like Abreu,” Jimenez said. “I feel proud to be around those guys.”
Like so many young players, Jimenez is eager to learn the tricks of the trade, and Abreu has shown he has no problem being a teacher.
“It’s an honor to play in the Major Leagues,” Abreu said. “Each day is an opportunity to play the game we love. The work doesn’t stop when you get here. You have to continue to work hard. He knows that. I know he will continue to work and get better.”
Russell Dorsey is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @Russ_Dorsey1.