It’s pretty clear that Eloy Jimenez is ready for the bright lights of the big leagues.
In town for a visit to his future home Tuesday at Guaranteed Rate Field, the No. 6 prospect in baseball spent his 10-minute media session with reporters explaining that he believes he’s already ready for the majors and that he wants to be one of the best players around.
This integral part of the White Sox future lineup is not lacking in confidence.
“I truly believe that I can be playing here right now,” Jimenez said through a translator. “The only thing I can do and handle is to work hard every day and try to do my best and try to learn about the game every day and put me in the best position to force them to make a decision. They are the ones who can have the power and in my case, in my mind, I’m ready. But I have to wait.”
Yes, Jimenez — only 20 years old and only recently with any minor league experience above Class A — will have to wait for his big league chance. But he’s sure doing his best to move that timeline up.
He’s done nothing but rake since coming over from the Cubs in the Crosstown swap that sent Jose Quintana to the North Side. He posted a .345/.410/.682 slash line with eight homers and 26 RBIs in 29 games with Class-A Winston-Salem, then he slashed .353/.397.559 in 18 games with Double-A Birmingham, adding three more homers and seven more RBIs in that handful of games.
“I want to be the best player on the field every time I go out,” Jimenez said. “That’s why I’m working hard. I don’t want to be just another player. I want to be the best player.”
It looks and sounds like Jimenez is going to be a monster. The only question now is when does he start?
“I think his skill set is evident,” manager Rick Renteria said. “I think obviously, every level brings its own challenges, even coming to the big leagues will bring its own challenges. But I think if he continues to maintain the consistency in which he’s going about doing what he’s doing, there’s no reason why he’s not going to continue to want to push that door open as soon as possible.
“Obviously, we all have to consider when is the right time to have him ultimately be a part of this club, assuming everything continues to go well for him on the field, between the lines. But I think just the consistency of which he continues to do what he does, he has a tremendous routine, he talks about his routine, he’s very focused, I believe he has a desire to be one of the best. I know that’s the way he talks. It’s just about him maintaining the consistency and hopefully he'll be here soon.”
Looking at those gaudy numbers and reading these quotes, you might not think there’s much left for Jimenez to prove. But the White Sox rebuilding schedule means there’s no need to rush him to the big leagues. He’s played just a handful of games at the Double-A level and he’s just 20 years old.
As confident he is that he can take on the majors right this second, Jimenez also isn’t shying away from doing the requisite work that will get him to where he wants to go. That ought to add comfort to anyone thinking his confidence might be a bit too far ahead of his game.
“I have to work all around. I have to improve all around my game,” he 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.”
So as much as Jimenez might like to make the 2018 Opening Day roster — or get a September call-up right now — the waiting game will still be in play for him, just like many other of the organization’s top prospects and the team in general during this rebuild.
But that’s what makes this franchise so interesting right now, the excitement for the future and wonder over what this roster could one day look like.
It’s even caught up with Mr. One Game At A Time, Rick Renteria.
“It is a pretty picture. I think a couple days ago, I’ll be honest, I sat back and started writing all the names on the board of players that we have within the system, the kids that have been within the system and the kids that we have acquired,” Renteria said. “You start looking and you go, ‘Wow, we’re poised to hopefully be able to develop, help these guys get better and become part of the Chicago White Sox at the major league level.’
“The names that are on that board are nice to see.”