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Eloy Jimenez saying he belongs with White Sox – with his bat

Eloy Jimenez chats with hitting coach Todd Steverson before a game between the White Sox and Cleveland Indians last September in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Chris Getz created a stir Aug. 5 when he told a radio audience Eloy Jimenez was “really close” to being a major-leaguer.

“Oh, I’m well aware of that,’’ the White Sox’ director of player development said.

Getz, however, now knows to choose his words more carefully when it comes to Jimenez, who continues to create a stir. In his own words — and with his bat — the prized prospect continues to declare he’s ready, especially with the way he’s playing at Class AAA Charlotte. Jimenez was batting .378/.419/.628 with 11 homers and 32 RBI in 49 games through Monday.

General manager Rick Hahn took the Jimenez buzz down a notch Aug. 20, when he said, “Eloy is going to remain in Charlotte … and we’ll evaluate where he’s at in the coming weeks.”

Jimenez, 21, who has been saying for a year he’s ready for the majors, cranked it back up again last week when he wrote in The Players Tribune that he is now “beyond ready.” He followed that by going 12-for-18 at the plate.

When Jimenez’s teammate Michael Kopech, 22, was called up Aug. 21, the focus shifted to the highly touted right-hander who has allowed one run in two starts for the Sox. Kopech’s arrival also raised the question, why not Eloy?

Why not, Rick?

“I have spoken on this topic numerous times already and really have nothing new to add at this time,’’ Hahn said last week, responding via email to Jimenez’s Players’ Tribune quotes. “I promise to discuss it once again once we’re ready to announce the plan for the remainder of the 2018 season.”

That plan could be to bring Jimenez up when rosters expand in September, which is days away, while the Sox are at the beginning of a 10-game homestand. Or it could mean waiting until mid-April 2019, which would give the Sox an extra year of contract control before Jimenez hits free agency in 2024 or ’25. The Cubs did the same with Kris Bryant in 2015 when it was quite obvious their future MVP third baseman was ready the previous summer.

Service-time clocks are debated differently for pitchers, in part because of injury risks. There’s no debate about Jimenez’s performance, though. He was 18-for-29 since Kopech’s debut through Monday.


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Dylan Cease right there with Michael Kopech, Sox pitching coach Don Cooper says

Talk about a “why not me” statement.

“He looks good,’’ Getz said. “He’s controlling the [strike] zone, he’s driving the ball to all places and physically he’s moving well. He’s moving better, and the defense has improved. He’s making good decisions on the basepaths. It’s our job to make him as well-rounded as possible, and we feel like he’s doing just that.’’

Getz can’t say what the plan for Jimenez is. He would only say “it’s a group decision.”

“From a development standpoint, he just continues to play well,’’ Getz said. “At [Class A] Winston-Salem, he didn’t slow down, and he hasn’t slowed down. He has a bright future.’’

The Knights, who have six games left, are happy to have Jimenez, just as they loved having Carlos Rodon, Yoan Moncada and Kopech. They’re the only players whose shirseys were sold at a stadium that has led minor-league baseball in attendance four of the last five years.

“I’ve been here 13 seasons,’’ said Knights chief operating officer Dan Rajkowski, “and we’ve seen prospects come through. But not to the level we’ve had with Moncada, Jimenez and Kopech. These are premier, talented young players.’’

Rajkowski sees the star quality in Jimenez that extends beyond his talent.

“His physical frame and the way he presents himself [is notable], but what is unique is the energy he brings,’’ Rajkowski said. “He seems to have a great time playing the game. The kid has a smile on his face all the time, and he looks like a great teammate. These are things you see outside the talent.’’

Sox fans can’t wait to see it for themselves.