As a special assistant to White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, Hall of Fame slugger Jim Thome has seen the team’s rebuild up close during one-on-one meetings with the organization’s rising stars in the minors.
Of all the prospects Thome has worked with — including Jake Burger and Yoan Moncada — there’s one in particular who has stood out: Eloy Jimenez.
Thome said Thursday that he likes the way Jimenez, 21, carries himself and believes the Sox’ No. 1 prospect will play a key role in the rebuild.
“Eloy has a chance to be really special, as much as a lot of the others,” said Thome, who will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, on July 29. “For me as a hitter, the offense is exciting. . . . I just really love this kid Eloy, how he approaches the game and where he’s at from a mechanical, fundamental point. Having guys like him will create hunger along with Burger and Moncada.”
And as a five-time All-Star and 1996 Silver Slugger winner, Thome — who hit 134 home runs in his three-plus seasons with the Sox and 612 during his 22-year career with six teams — knows what he’s talking about.
Jimenez hit .312 with 19 homers and 65 RBI last season in the minors. He was invited to the Sox’ major-league camp in Glendale, Arizona, but he likely won’t break camp with the team and will be reassigned to Class AA Birmingham to pick up where he left off.
Although it’s unclear when Jimenez will make the jump to the majors, there’s one sure thing: Brighter days are on the horizon for Sox fans, Thome said.
“I think the best part of all of this is it’s going to be really fun,” Thome said. “The next two or three years here, it’s going to be exciting baseball on the South Side. I’m excited.”
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