Jimenez goes yard in first Barons at-bat

Fellow White Sox prospect Collins also homers in first SL game

Four days before being traded, Eloy Jimenez played for the World Team in his second consecutive All-Stars Futures Game. (LG Patterson/MLB Photo)

By Josh Jackson / MiLB.com | August 17, 2017 1:08 AM ET

Eloy Jimenez arrived in the Southern League on Wednesday and one thing was clear from the start.

"Through the first flip in BP and into the game, I could see it," Double-A Birmingham hitting coach Cole Armstrong said. "He's a different kind of animal. He's not the type you see every day." 

The No. 7 overall prospect homered on the third pitch he saw, doubled and scored twice in the Barons' 9-4 win over the Montgomery Biscuits at Regions Field. Tenth-ranked White Sox prospect Zack Collins -- also making his Southern League debut -- also went yard and went the distance behind the plate.

Video: Jimenez hits first Double-A jack

The duo was promoted from the Class A Advanced Carolina League on Tuesday. The 20-year-old outfielder, traded from the Cubs in the July 13 Jose Quintana deal, hit .302/.375/.570 with 16 homers and 17 doubles over 71 games between Winston-Salem and Myrtle Beach on the circuit. The possibility of a promotion had occurred to him before it happened.

"All that passed through your mind, but if they don't make that decision, I need to play hard no matter where I am," he said on the Barons radio postgame show. "I just need to stay in my focus and play hard every day."

Gameday box score

The right-handed hitter turned heads with a drive smoked off the scoreboard above the stands in left field during batting practice, but something beyond where the ball landed caught the coach's attention.

"Just looking at how the swing worked, it looked like the pitcher in batting practice could throw him a breaking ball any time, and he still would have hit it," said Armstrong, who played for 11 professional seasons. "He wasn't at all pre-committed in his swing. He just has a swing where the barrel stays in the zone a long time. And the ball was doing crazy things off his bat, for sure."

Batting third, Jimenez slugged a 1-1 offering from Anthony Misiewicz the other way for a solo dinger.

"That was special for me," Jimenez said. "I just tried to put a good swing on it and the ball [flew] pretty good to right field. ... I just try to use the whole field, not just one side of the field."

Video: Jimenez smokes a double

Up against the Tampa Bay southpaw again in the second inning, he drilled the ball deep to center field.

"It's a big ballpark here in Birmingham," Armstrong said. "I'd venture to say that in 75 percent of ballparks, that would have been a home run."

Jimenez grounded out against Edwin Fierro in the fourth and the right-hander also struck him out in the sixth, but the Barons coaching staff even liked what they saw when the youngster made outs.

"Even going into the first two at-bats, he was incredibly impressive, but then to watch him adjust as he made adjustments to how they were pitching him in the third at-bat," Armstrong said. "In the third one, they threw him three sliders, and with two strikes, he shortens up a lot and puts a really good, shortened up swing on this really nasty slider -- if ever I've seen a pitcher's pitch, that was it -- and he almost ends up with a base hit up the middle. To see his plan and his approach adjust with how they challenge him differently, that's what was really impressive."

MiLB include

Birmingham's first-year hitting coach, who's worked in the White Sox system since 2014, was hard-pressed to think of another player Jimenez's age he'd seen make as big an impact in his Double-A debut.

"Not that it's a huge sample size, but we were talking after the game, and the last guy I remember doing that, or even just having that type of presence in the box, was somebody I saw [when I was] a player here in 2010, when [Giancarlo] Stanton was here [with Jacksonville]," he said.

Collins struck out in the first and second before going yard to right-center on a 2-0 pitch from Fierro in the fourth.

"I've seen Zack a little bit, in instructs a little bit before the Arizona Fall League and in Spring Training. He's so polished -- that's the one thing off the bat," Armstrong said.

Video: Collins homers in his first game with the Barons

"You can see right away he has some idea of who he is as a hitter, and he knows how to formulate a plan of attack at the plate. The way he battles back tonight for the home run and to work a really good [seventh-inning] walk, you can just see what a mature approach he has. And aside from calling a really good game, to see him not panic after the first two strikeouts and come back, that really shows the player he is."

Tanner Banks (3-5) allowed three runs -- all earned -- on seven hits and two walks while punching out five for the Barons.

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No. 25 Rays prospect Nick Ciuffo went 2-for-3 with an RBI double and a walk for the Biscuits.

Josh Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @JoshJacksonMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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