Joy From Eloy: Fast start for Jimenez catches the attention of White Sox fans

Birmingham Barons outfielder and White Sox prospect Eloy Jimenez.

BIRMINGHAM – At the big league level, the amount of positivity is a little low – and that’s OK given the situation.

The second year of a rebuild, when all of the established stars are gone and younger players dominate the roster, is often the most difficult. The White Sox have found that out the hard way during a 9-25 start to the season which included blowing two four-run leads in losses to the Pirates Tuesday and Wednesday.

Will it get better for the South Siders? The odds aren’t looking great for the Major Leaguers, so the joy is going to have to come from the minors – and right now it’s be supplied in Birmingham.

Outfield Eloy Jimenez is enjoying an incredible start to his season with the Double-A Barons of the Southern League, and this comes after he suffered a minor pectoral strain at the end of workouts in Glendale for Spring Training.

Activated from that injury on April 19th, Jimenez has been on a tear ever since. He’s batting .346 with seven homers and 23 RBI, including two more last night off two doubles in Birmingham’s win over Pensacola.

That’s part of an 13-game hitting streak for the outfielder, the last ten of which have been multi-hit games. Jimenez is slugging .704 for the young season with an on-base percentage of .375.

For White Sox fans, this is music to the ears, especially considering that Jimenez came to the team from the rival Cubs last season in the deal that brought Jose Quintana to the North Side. When he joined the Sox system mid-season in 2017, he hit .345 with eight homers and 26 RBI with Single-A Winston Salem before getting called up to Birmingham late in the season.

In 18 games with the Barons, Jimenez kept it up, hitting .345 with three homers and seven RBI. He’s managed to top it this season, causing some to wonder when and not if he’ll be on the White Sox roster by the end of the 2018 season.

So far Jimenez is trying to keep those thoughts on the back burner, choosing to let things play themselves out the rest of the year.

“I know that I can still learn and improve my game,” said Jimenez through a translator on a conference call this week. “I know I can be better with the strikezone recognition, and I know I can be better in the outfield too. Those are aspects of my game that I’m focused to. It’s not just my offense, I always try to improve all around.”

For the moment, his performances are plenty good for White Sox fans in search of optimism early in the 2018 baseball season.