The White Sox honor a top position player and pitcher from their minor-league system every month, and for July, they happen to be the two key pieces from the Jose Quintana trade with the Cubs.
Outfielder Eloy Jimenez, who tore up the International League during a 16-game run in July, batting .435/.455/.839 with six home runs and 13 RBI for Class AAA Charlotte, and right-hander Dylan Cease, who went 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA in five starts for Class AA Birmingham, were named Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month as voted by a panel of Chicago-area media members.
The Sox acquired Jimenez, Cease, corner infielder Matt Rose and middle infielder Bryant Flete last July 13 for Quintana. Jimenez is ranked No. 3 and Cease No. 45 among all prospects by MLB Pipeline.
Speculation as to whether Jimenez finally will get called up after mashing minor-league pitching at every level — with no letup at the highest level — picked up because general manager Rick Hahn was in Charlotte on Wednesday while Jimenez was getting a day off.
Sox officials said there was nothing to read into Hahn being there, and director of player development Chris Getz said Jimenez was getting a standard day off, joking that he needed one after going 0-for-4 Tuesday.
Jimenez, 21, leads the International League in batting average (.376) and ranks second in on-base percentage (.423) since his promotion from Birmingham on June 21. He’s hitting .337/.386/.601 with 18 homers, 23 doubles and 59 RBI in 80 games between Birmingham and Charlotte this season.
Cease, 22, had 42 strikeouts in 30 innings in July and is riding a 17-inning scoreless streak since July 20. He’s 11-2 with a 2.71 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 19 starts between Class A Winston-Salem and Birmingham.
While none of the four prospects fetched for Quintana, 9-7 with a 4.26 ERA after going 7-3 with a 3.74 ERA for the Cubs in the last 2½ months of 2017, has reached the majors yet, the Sox are feeling good right now about the trade.
Rose, 24, and Flete, 25, both at Birmingham, were extras in the trade and are not ranked among the Sox’ top prospects. Rose is batting .198/.267/.367 with 14 homers, and Flete is batting .244/.351/.333 with two homers and 24 RBI.
Lopez seeks focus
Right-hander Reynaldo Lopez, who closes out the Royals series Thursday and has an 0-4 record with an 8.47 ERA in his last four starts, met with manager Rick Renteria, pitching coach Don Cooper and bullpen coach Curt Hasler recently. Renteria said they wanted to make sure Lopez was OK physically.
“He said that physically he feels great; there’s nothing wrong with him,’’ Renteria said. “He truly felt like he wasn’t focused on doing his job.’’
Lopez has said more than once that problems he encounters on the mound are related to an occasional lack of focus.
“The way they have to find the focus, that has to come from within,’’ Renteria said.
“The best ones always find a way to get it done, and if we’re going to continue to develop as an organization and as individuals, if we want to be elite, we’ve got to find a way to do it.”
The Sox’ home game against the Yankees on Monday has been selected by ESPN for a national broadcast, although it will be blacked out on ESPN in the Chicago viewing area. It will air locally at 7:10 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago.