Young star Eloy ascending for White Sox

August 19th, 2019

CHICAGO -- Prior to the recent series finale against the Houston Astros, White Sox left fielder sat in the home clubhouse at Guaranteed Rate Field and referenced his rookie season numbers with a wry smile.

“Yeah, the season has not ended yet,” the always upbeat Jimenez said. “We have a month and a half left, and those numbers are good. But it’s going to be better.”

Jimenez, who doesn’t turn 23 until Nov. 27, backed up his words during a 13-9 victory over the Astros on that particular afternoon by launching a 434 foot home run. It was Jimenez’s 20th homer of the season, making him the 11th White Sox rookie in franchise history to reach such a plateau.

That drive traveled 434 feet up into an upper region of the center-field batter’s eye rarely reached by mortal hitters. Then again, it wasn’t even close to the longest long ball launched by Jimenez this season.

The young man is loaded with talent, especially on the offensive side, while he remains a work in progress defensively. That work takes place on a daily pregame basis for Jimenez with first-base and outfield coach Daryl Boston, as Jimenez has shown marked improvement from his debut back on March 28 in Kansas City.

Very few players, if any, have as much pure enjoyment for playing the game as Jimenez. He’s a top-rated young talent at the absolute core of what the White Sox hope will be an eventual championship rebuild.

“Eloy is a special player,” White Sox catcher James McCann said. “You see the type of power that he has and there's not many guys in the game that have that type of power.”

“He hasn’t been hot this year and he’s still got what he’s got. You are encouraged with that,” White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson said. “We’ve all yet to see the best of him and admittedly he would say that himself. But I think the consistency needs to be there for us to see it, in terms of playing time and experience. We’ll see it come out soon.”

Jimenez’s consistency has been hampered primarily by extended absences throughout the 2019 campaign. He missed time from April 27 to May 19 with a high right ankle sprain after colliding with the left-field wall while chasing a Grayson Greiner home run. He was out from July 17-27 following a right ulnar nerve contusion and was also placed on the bereavement list due to the death of his grandmother, missing April 22-25 immediately before his first injury.

A career .311 hitter over 1,585 Minor League at-bats, Jimenez has dipped into the .240 range presently. That first-year drop doesn’t dampen Jimenez’s spirts for becoming an elite all-around force on offense.

“Just sometimes I get more … too anxious,” Jimenez said. “I just need to be myself, don’t try to do too much. That is one of the things I’m going to work on. And keep learning about the strike zone.

“When you have your first year in the Majors, it’s for learning all about the Majors. I think that is good.”

So, what has Jimenez learned, aside from avoiding doing too much with each at-bat? Baseball is a game of adjustments, especially at the Major League level.

Once the adjustments have been completely implemented, those 434-foot blasts will be almost commonplace as Jimenez cements his place alongside other young stars such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr. and Pete Alonso, to name a few. Take a look at White Sox third baseman Yoan Moncada’s development from Year 1 to Year 2 as a prime example.

“We need to adjust every single day,” Jimenez said. “It’s not the same stuff in the Minors. Competition is better. You are around the best of the best here. That’s why it’s different.”