Basketball was Eloy Jimenez’s first love.
But when Jimenez was 9, his father told him to play another sport. The boy picked baseball.
“You know, it wasn’t as fun as it is right now,” Jimenez said Friday.
A decade’s worth of clobbering baseballs has a way of making the game more enjoyable. The 20-year-old outfielder from the Dominican Republic dreams of reaching the big leagues, which now means playing for the White Sox instead of the Cubs.
On Thursday, the Sox acquired Jimenez and three other minor-leaguers in exchange for Jose Quintana. Jimenez is ranked as the No. 5 prospect by Baseball America.
In his first game with Class A Winston-Salem, Jimenez notched the game-winning hit Thursday.
He went 1-for-4 with two RBI while playing alongside fellow prospects such as Zack Collins and Luis Basabe.
“Honestly, I didn’t know much about this organization because I wasn’t expecting to play here,” Jimenez said in a conference call. “A few friends have been talking about how good this organization is.”
Jimenez knows Sox prospect Yoan Moncada from playing in the Futures Game the last two seasons. He described Moncada as a quiet, bashful player who’s all business when he’s on the field.
How would Jimenez describe himself to Sox fans?
“I’m a happy player,” Jimenez said, “a hardworking player.”
And a grateful player.
“I just want to thank all of them in the Cubs’ organization because they treated me as part of the family,” Jimenez said. “They treated me as a son. I’m glad I had the opportunity to play for them and their system. It’s just another step forward for me.”
Shutting it down
As the Sox welcomed new prospects, one of their top young arms might be sidelined until 2019.
Right-hander Zack Burdi met with doctors Friday in Chicago, and the early prognosis is that he has a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament and will require Tommy John surgery, general manager Rick Hahn said. Based on a typical recovery period, Burdi will miss the rest of the season and possibly all of next season.
The hard-throwing relief prospect had 51 strikeouts in 33„ innings for Class AAA Charlotte. Burdi grew up in Downers Grove and attended Louisville before the Sox drafted him 26th overall in 2016.
Hahn acknowledged that setbacks such as Burdi’s reinforced the need for minor-league depth.
“It shows you can have the best-laid plans, and sometimes the baseball gods laugh,” Hahn said. “But certainly part of what we’re trying to accomplish here is accumulate as much talent as possible, knowing that things happen.”
Cuban outfield prospect Luis Robert is recovering from an injured left knee and is set to ramp up baseball activities soon, Hahn said.
The 19-year-old has been sidelined since July 4.
† The Sox reinstated Miguel Gonzalez and Tyler Saladino from the 10-day disabled list.
† Mike Pelfrey and Derek Holland will start Saturday and Sunday, the team announced.
Gonzalez and Carlos Rodon will face the Dodgers next week.
† Sox broadcaster Steve Stone turned 70 on Friday.
Follow me on Twitter @tcmusick.