Eloy Jimenez had a 15 game hitting streak going before finally going hitless on Saturday. He bounced back on Sunday going 3-4 to raise his average on the season to .333 and OPS to .994. MLB.com’s third ranked prospect in baseball now has 25 RBIs in 24 games and has hit seven home runs.
I first laid eyes on Jimenez in 2014 in the AZL where he made his pro debut, a rare spot for a Dominican signing to begin rather than seeing time in the Dominican Summer League. Back then he was a long and lean free swinger whose natural talent was undeniable. The Chicago Cubs sent him south to the White Sox along with three other prospects for Jose Quintana last July, and Jimenez just might make that deal a lopsided one on his own.
Now at AA as a 21-year old, Jimenez is worthy of being named one of the top prospects in all of baseball. He has gone from a free swinger to a batter with some polish. He still strikes out at about a 20% clip while walking just about 7% of the time, but he does possess solid bat-to-ball skills. He has a closed stance with both feet starting out almost pointing backwards at the catcher. He has a leg kick that I typically would not like, but he does not find himself out in front much, keeping his balance solid and centered to allow him to adjust to any pitch he faces.
When he swings, he uses the fact that his feet are turned so far back into a great amount of power, really twisting his hips into his swing. He is 6’4” and listed at 205 lbs. but has a body that can handle more strength without sacrificing much in terms of agility and gives him as high a power ceiling as anyone in the minors (literal light tower power).
Despite making an incredible highlight reel catch that saw him nearly flipping over the wall in PetCo at the Future’s Games a couple year’s back, he is not a great defender. He is a well below average runner and doesn’t make the greatest reads on balls (see the catch in the Future’s Game just referenced, was a highlight only because he took a bad angle).
His arm is solid. At one point it looked like it could become a plus tool but plays more average and likely makes him more of a left fielder than a pure right fielder. If he does play in right, he has enough arm to make the throws but won’t be an arm anyone will be in fear of.
Overall, Jimenez has one of the best bats of any prospect in the minors. That may get White Sox fans impatient to see him in the big leagues, but he missed the beginning of the season with a strained pec, the second straight season he started the year in Extended Spring due to an upper body injury.
He is best served to stick in Birmingham through the All-Star break and getting a call up to AAA at that point if he continues to hit as well as he has and debut in Chicago in September or early 2019. He won’t be a .333 hitter, but he could be a .280-.300 hitter in his prime and knock 40+ balls out.
He should be a staple in the heart of the White Sox order for many years as they look to go from the bottom of the AL Central to a real contender in the next couple years.