“I truly believe that I can be playing here right now,” Eloy Jimenez told the media on Tuesday during his formal introduction to the park he will soon call home. “In my mind, I’m ready. But I have to wait.”
Jimenez, 20, was the headliner in the deal that sent left-hander Jose Quintana to the Cubs on July, 14th. Since moving to the White Sox’s Double-A Birmingham affiliate, Jimenez has hit an impressive .353/.397/.559 with 16 strikeouts in 68 at bats.
Jimenez’s demeanor is that of someone well beyond his years, and his skill set is one that demands attention as he continues to dominant throughout the minors. But Jimenez remains very humble and self aware. When asked if he he’ll be a star, his answer is “Of course.”
“That’s why I’m working hard every day.” Jimenez said. “I want to be the best player on the field every time I go out. That’s why I’m working hard. I don’t want to be just another player. I want to be the best player.”
Manager Rick Renteria has been sufficiently impressed with what he’s seen from Jimenez this season. “We’ve seen quite a bit of [him], obviously he’s a young man with some power,” Renteria said. “He can play the field and on top of that we’ve watched some of the interviews he’s given, he’s a pretty bright young man. It’s going to be nice to see these guys as they continue to move forward in their careers with hopes that they’re going to be a part of a tremendous future here in Chicago.”
It was easy to see a picture in which Jimenez is a mainstay on the South Side as he shook hands with his future teammates, watched batting practice alongside his future hitting coach, Todd Steverson, and enjoyed a warm welcome from some of his future teammates.
“[Carson] Fulmer gave me a very good welcome,” Jimenez said. “He made me feel like I’m part of the roster here. I also met with the manager, the coaches. I’m excited. They all treat me in a good way and I’m just very, very excited.”
Jimenez knows his work isn’t done though. He may feel ready to be slotted into the lineup during his time in Chicago on Tuesday but he still has improvements to make before he can take the big stage.
“I have to improve all around my game,” Jimenez said. “I don’t think it’s any specific area that I have to improve more than another. I have to keep learning about the game because every day you can learn something different. That’s the way I like to approach my day on a daily basis. That’s the way I like to think; work hard every day and try to learn and improve every day in all the aspects of the game.”
Part of that improvement will begin this offseason, as Jimenez said he plans to take part in the Dominican Winter League. As for Renteria, he thinks that the organization will need to sit down with Jimenez and help him make that decision when the time comes.
“Everybody gains what they want to get out of it, some people go with it willingly, some people go not wanting to really go and don’t get a whole lot,” Renteria said. “If he decides and the organization decides that that’s something that he should do, we will talk about it. If he wants to do it obviously everybody has to be on board with something like that.”
“It kind of helps people to see the game from a different perspective,” Renteria said of Winter League baseball. “Because you have some of the best of the best going out there competing and performing, but I think that we will come to some conclusion about what we want him to do.”
As old familiar faces begin to pack their bags in the White Sox clubhouse and new ones take their place, Manager Rick Renteria can’t help but think about the future on the South Side.
“A couple days ago, I’ll be honest I sat back and started writing all the names on the board of the players we have within the system, the kids that have been within the system, and the kids we’ve acquired,” Renteria said. “You start looking and you think we’re poised to hopefully help these guys get better and make them a part of the Chicago White Sox at the major league level. The names that are on that board are nice to see.”
The White Sox announced the release of veteran left-handed starter Derek Holland on Tuesday. Holland, 30, had a rather turbulent year with the White Sox, pitching to a 6.20 ERA with a 6.42 FIP. He allowed 31 home runs in 135 innings.
“With the young men coming up, it was going to cut into his usage,” Renteria said of the move. “That’s what it was. He was awesome when we spoke to him last night, he was very grateful for the opportunity. He was very happy to get through the season healthy. He was disappointed he wasn’t able to do more, he really wanted to come in and perform better but I think with the guys we’ve brought up are going to be the ones that are going to taking those innings.”
“Derek was a great teammate,” pitcher James Shields said. “All of the guys liked him around here. He went out there every five days and pitched with his heart. The guy cared about baseball and is a tremendous human being. It’s always tough to lose a guy like that.”
The White Sox promoted left-handed reliever Jace Fry to take Holland’s roster spot. Fry, who has undergone Tommy John surgery twice, will making his first appearance in the majors on Tuesday. He spent the entire 2017 season with Double-A Birmingham and pitched 45 innings with 52 strikeouts while posting a 2.78 ERA.