Give credit to Eloy Jimenez. At 21, he already knows how to say most of the right things about his current place, which is waiting patiently for a call-up to the White Sox while hitting the cover off the ball at Class AAA Charlotte.
Jimenez seems more than ready to be a major-leaguer, having ripped Southern League pitching at Class AA Birmingham and now elevating his performance in the International League at Charlotte, where he batted .435/.455/.839 with six home runs and 13 RBI in 16 games last month.
General manager Rick Hahn was there to see him Wednesday, even though Jimenez had the day off, sparking speculation that a call-up might be imminent, perhaps made-for-national-TV worthy with a Sox home game Monday against the Yankees added by ESPN this week.
“We just said hello to each other,’’ Jimenez said during a conference call with media Thursday, the day after being named the Sox’ Minor League Player of the Month for July. “He told me just to keep working hard, keep doing the things I’ve been doing here. That’s it. We didn’t talk about anything else.’’
Jimenez is the No. 3-ranked prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. Fans are clamoring on social media for his promotion to a team that hasn’t given them much to cheer about with a 38-70 record. Many of them are wondering what could possibly be left for Jimenez, and perhaps top pitching prospect Michael Kopech, as well, to check off from a list of things to be accomplished before they see the majors.
There’s a financial advantage in keeping Jimenez’s major-league service-time clock on hold till next April, but indications are the Sox aren’t worried about contractual money matters in 2025. Hahn might actually mean it when he suggests they will err on the side of patience with Jimenez.
“Our checklist that we want these guys to answer is a little more lengthy than [what is seen in box scores],’’ Hahn said last week, “and not until they’ve answered all those questions we have for them at the minor-league level will we promote them.’’
That touched off a flurry of blowback from fans, as well as media, wondering what else he would need to do. So Jimenez has been asked about “checked boxes.”
He said he’s “just working on the things I need to work [on]. Nobody has told me anything about any list.’’
Defense, particularly taking good routes on fly balls, is certainly on the list for Jimenez, whose bat is not an issue as he leads the IL 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.
He could step in right now and be the Sox’ best-hitting outfielder, maybe more than that.
“I can’t get frustrated over things that I can’t control,’’ Jimenez said. “I can get frustrated when things don’t go well on the field because those are the things I can control. What happens off the field, I can’t control that.’’
Jimenez said the key for him since getting promoted to Charlotte has been showing patience at the plate, staying calm and swinging at pitches in the strike zone against pitchers that have better command than he saw at Birmingham.
“I’m trying to get more walks [he has eight in 27 games, with 12 strikeouts], but I haven’t changed anything,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ve had the same goals since I got in the game — get better every day in all aspects of it.
“I’m working to be there this year, but if the front office or somebody else doesn’t think that I should be there, that is their decision. I’m going to be ready for when the opportunity arrives. When God thinks that the time is right, I’m going to be ready.”