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Wednesday's best: Jimenez, Collins star in Double-A debuts

August 17, 2017

The White Sox announced on Monday that they were promoting Eloy Jimenez and Zack Collins to Double-A Birmingham. On Wednesday, it was the powerful prospect duo making an immediate impact and pacing the Barons' offense to a 9-4 win over Montgomery in their Southern League debut.Jimenez, MLB Pipeline's No. 7

The White Sox announced on Monday that they were promoting Eloy Jimenez and Zack Collins to Double-A Birmingham. On Wednesday, it was the powerful prospect duo making an immediate impact and pacing the Barons' offense to a 9-4 win over Montgomery in their Southern League debut.
Jimenez, MLB Pipeline's No. 7 overall prospect (White Sox No. 2), homered in his first Double-A at-bat in the first inning, when he hit a 1-1 offering just inside the right-field foul pole to give Birmingham an early lead.
"That was special for me," Jimenez told "I just tried to put a good swing on it and the ball [flew] pretty good to right field. ... I just try to use the whole field, not just one side of the field."

MILB Video - Title: Watch: Jimenez launches homer - Url:

He added a double in his next trip to the plate before grounding out in the fourth inning and striking out in the sixth to finish 2-for-4 with two run scored.
"Even going into the first two at-bats, he was incredibly impressive, but then to watch him adjust as he made adjustments to how they were pitching him in the third at-bat," Double-A Birmingham hitting coach Cole Armstrong told "In the third one, they threw him three sliders, and with two strikes, he shortens up a lot and puts a really good, shortened-up swing on this really nasty slider -- if ever I've seen a pitcher's pitch, that was it -- and he almost ends up with a base hit up the middle. To see his plan and his approach adjust with how they challenge him differently, that's what was really impressive."
Collins (White Sox No. 10), meanwhile, struck out in his first two at-bats before connecting on a two-out solo shot to right-center field in the bottom of the fourth inning. He would work a walk in the seventh to finish 1-for-3 in his Double-A debut.

MILB Video - Title: Collins' first Double-A homer - Url:

"I've seen Zack a little bit, in instructs a little bit before the Arizona Fall League and in Spring Training. He's so polished -- that's the one thing off the bat," Armstrong said.
"You can see right away he has some idea of who he is as a hitter, and he knows how to formulate a plan of attack at the plate. The way he battles back tonight for the home run and to work a really good [seventh-inning] walk, you can just see what a mature approach he has. And aside from calling a really good game, to see him not panic after the first two strikeouts and come back, that really shows the player he is."
Jimenez's performance was a mere continuation of what had been a torrid stretch in the Carolina League after going from the Cubs to the White Sox in the Jose Quintana trade on July 13. In his 29 games with Class A Advanced Winston-Salem, the 20-year-old outfielder slashed .345/.410/.682 with eight home runs and 26 RBIs. Overall, Jimenez batted .302/.375/.570 with 16 home runs over 71 games between Winston-Salem and Myrtle Beach (Cubs).
As for Collins, the 22-year-old catcher earned his promotion after hitting .223 with 17 home runs and 18 doubles with the Dash. Strikeouts were a problem for the left-handed hitter, who fanned 118 times over 101 games, though he also posted 76 walks en route to a .365 on-base percentage. Defensively, Collins ranked third in the Carolina League with a 41-percent caught-stealing rate at the time of his promotion.
The rest of the best performances from top prospects Wednesday
• No. 8 overall prospect Ronald Acuna (Braves' No. 1) accounted for all of Triple-A Gwinnett's offense as he went 2-for-4 with a home run, a double and four RBIs in a 4-1 victory over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The home run, a three-run shot in the fifth inning, was Acuna's seventh in 33 games with Gwinnett, for whom he's slashing .341/.407/.607. Altogether, the 19-year-old outfielder has produced a .321/.375/.535 batting line with 56 extra-base hits (19 home runs) and 37 stolen bases in 118 games spanning three levels.

MILB Video - Title: Acuna blasts off - Url:

• No. 25 overall prospect Kolby Allard (Braves' No. 3) gave up two earned runs on six hits over six innings in a no-decision for Double-A Mississippi. In his first start since celebrating his 20th birthday (on Aug. 13), the left-hander racked up nine strikeouts while throwing 67 of his 94 pitches for strikes. He's pitched to a 3.48 ERA over 129 1/3 innings (24 starts) this season against considerably older competition in the Southern League.
• No. 60 overall prospect Lucas Giolito (White Sox No. 7) added to his strong second-half showing with his third scoreless outing in five turns for Triple-A Charlotte. Giolito scattered seven hits with one walk and seven strikeouts over six innings, throwing 63 of his 96 pitches for strikes and inducing nine ground-ball outs. The 23-year-old right-hander's ERA now sits at 4.48, the lowest it's been this season, and he's struck out 134 in 128 2/3 innings (24 starts).
• No. 82 overall prospect Jake Bauers (Rays' No. 5) went 2-for-3 with a solo homer and two RBIs as he helped Triple-A Durham edge Syracuse, 3-2. It marked the second straight game with a home run for the 21-year-old outfielder, who had gone 1-for-26 at the plate over his previous eight contests before breaking out with homers in back-to-back games. Overall, Bauers has produced a .266/.369/.425 slash line with 41 extra-base hits (12 home runs) and 15 stolen bases in 112 games this season.

MILB Video - Title: Bauers' solo shot - Url:

• Braves No. 9 prospect Joey Wentz, 19, lowered his South Atlantic League-leading ERA to 2.19 behind another dominant start for Class A Rome. The 6-foot-5 lefty allowed one unearned run on one hit in six innings, and has now gone 12 consecutive starts with two or fewer earned runs allowed. He posted five strikeouts against one walk while finding the zone with 49 of his 69 pitches.

MILB Video - Title: Wentz notches a K - Url:

"I've never had a run of success like this before, and certainly not as a professional," Wentz told "It's been a good second half for me so far, but it really does make it easier pitching with a team like we have playing behind me. I've also been lucky to have some good catchers who have helped me all year. If I get myself into good counts and get ahead, which I've been able to do pretty well all year, then I'll have success."
Cubs No. 27 prospect Erling Moreno tossed five innings of one-hit ball and matched his career high with eight strikeouts as Class A South Bend defeated Fort Wayne, 5-1. The 20-year-old righty owns a 2.11 ERA over his last four starts, during which he's lowered his overall ERA from 4.06 to 3.38.
D-backs No. 26 prospectJose Almonte turned in one of his better performances of the season for Class A Advanced Visalia, allowing just one hit in six scoreless innings against Modesto. Throwing 47 of his 73 pitches for strikes, the 21-year-old right-hander walked one and struck out three in the performance. He's kept his opponent off the board in three of his past six turns for the Rawhide.
Nationals No. 14 prospectRaudy Read stayed hot for Double-A Harrisburg, going 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs in a win against Richmond. The 23-year-old backstop has gone deep five times in his past seven games, giving him a career-best 15 homers in 96 games this season after he had combined to hit 14 homers in 188 games from 2015-16.

MILB Video - Title: Watch: Read blasts off - Url:

Orioles No. 7 prospect Hunter Harvey recorded seven of his nine outs via the strikeout and allowed just one hit over three scoreless innings in a rehab outing for Class A Short Season Aberdeen. Both the workload and strikeout total were season highs for the 22-year-old righty, who has not given up a run while posting 16 strikeouts against three walks in 10 innings across five rehab starts.
• White Sox No. 9 prospect Alec Hansen was a bat-missing machine once again as the 22-year-old righty recorded his third double-digit strikeout performance in four starts for Class A Advanced Winston-Salem. Tossing seven innings, Hansen struck out 11 batters while allowing one earned run on three hits and one walk. He's piled up 40 strikeouts over his past 23 2/3 innings and has 166 strikeouts in 126 frames (11.9 K/9) this season.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.