CHICAGO (AP) — Eloy Jimenez is coming. He might not break camp with the Chicago White Sox, but it sure sounds as if he will make his anticipated major league debut very soon.
He isn’t exactly shying away from the hype, either.
“Just be one of the best players in the league. That is my expectation,” Jimenez said.
While the White Sox await word on the free-agent destinations for Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, they think one of the game’s next great sluggers is just about ready for life on the South Side.
Jimenez might start the season with Triple-A Charlotte — possibly staying long enough to create another year of contractual control — but he probably won’t be there for very long.
“We think the world of Eloy. We think the world of his future,” general manager Rick Hahn said Friday before the start of the team’s annual fan convention.
It’s easy to see why.
The 22-year-old Jimenez hit .317 with 10 homers and 42 RBIs with Double-A Birmingham last year before he was promoted to Charlotte. He was even better with the Knights, batting .355 with 12 homers and 33 RBIs in 55 games.
While Jimenez was bashing minor league pitching, Chicago went 62-100 in its sixth consecutive losing season. Jimenez said he thinks he is ready for the majors right now, but he knows it’s not his decision.
“I don’t want to rush my time,” he said through a translator. “I don’t want to rush my development process. When the moment comes, I’m going to be there. And I’m going to be ready to do my best.”
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Jimenez began his professional career with the crosstown Cubs, signing as an international free agent in 2013. Jimenez and right-hander Dylan Cease, another top prospect, were acquired by the White Sox in the July 2017 trade that moved veteran left-hander Jose Quintana to the North Side.
The rare deal between Windy City teams will be hotly debated for years to come, but Jimenez is focused on potential areas of improvement.
“I’ve been working on my defense,” the outfielder said. “I want to be a complete player, like not just hitting, I want to play defense, too. Because I don’t want to hit DH.”
Jimenez also has been working on his strength and conditioning after being hampered by injuries. He was slowed by patella tendinitis in his left knee and a mild pectoral strain at the start of last season.
Jimenez attributed some of the injuries to bad luck.
“I don’t know. It’s just something happens,” he said. “I’ve been working hard every year. And I can’t control that. When I’m healthy, I try to do my best.”
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/tag/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports