Jimenez powers up in Knights' win

Top White Sox prospect goes deep twice, drives in three

Eloy Jimenez has hit 26 homers since being acquired from the Cubs organization in July 2017. (Laura Wolff/Charlotte Knights)

By Andrew Battifarano / MiLB.com | July 21, 2018 2:06 AM

As Triple-A Charlotte hitting coach Andy Tomberlin puts it, Eloy Jimenez has demonstrated an ability to produce a fair share of almost unbelievable moments. Healthy again, he showed he still has the touch.

The top White Sox prospect recorded his first multi-homer game of the season, going deep twice before the Knights walked off with a 6-5, 10-inning victory over Indianapolis on Friday at BB&T Ballpark. He also doubled and drove in three runs in his fourth multi-hit effort this week.

Video: Jimenez goes yard again for Charlotte

Jimenez has been with Charlotte for 18 games, and Tomberlin has been thoroughly impressed with the young prospect's hitting ability and "mature instincts" at the plate. The hitting coach said Jimenez has already made key adjustments against the tougher pitching he's faced since his promotion to the International League.

"Tonight was a big night. He hit four balls on the nose and had two home runs with two strikes," Tomberlin said. "He's used the whole field -- he's an exciting player. He has a polish about his hitting approach and I think he's got a great future. We want to make things as simple as we can and just let him take one step at a time."

MLB.com's No. 2 overall prospect began the year in the Southern League with Double-A Birmingham, where he hit .317/.368/.556 with 10 homers and 42 RBIs in 53 games. After putting up those impressive numbers, he earned a promotion to the IL and batted .293 in his first 12 contests.

Gameday box score

On July 2, however, Jimenez learned he had a strained left adductor muscle and was sidelined for two weeks. Since coming back off the shelf, he's 10-for-28 (.357) with six extra-base hits in six games.

"He hasn't lost anything at all. He's hit the ground running," Tomberlin said. "He had a little tweak, but he's right back on track. It's fun to watch. He has a mature thought process when he's hitting."

Video: Knights' Jimenez hits fourth homer

With the Knights already on the board in the first after Jacob May's leadoff triple and Charlie Tilson's RBI groundout, the 21-year-old stepped in against Tribe starter Clay Holmes. Jimenez fell behind, 0-2, before blasting a hanging breaking ball to the opposite field for a solo shot. 

Two innings later, Tilson led off with a double to right before the native of the Dominican Republic ripped Holmes' first pitch for a double to left.

Jimenez faced Holmes again in the fifth and fouled off two pitches, then deposited the next one over the right-center field wall for his 15th homer of the season and fifth at the Triple-A level. Tomberlin has seen Jimenez's swing generate easy power to all fields, and the youngster's ability to stay collected in the batter's box has allowed him to consistently drive balls when down in the count. 

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"He seems to be under control and he does a really good job with two strikes," Tomberlin said. "Since he's been in Triple-A, it's been fun to watch him make his adjustments. He's been challenged at times where guys wouldn't give him much to hit. He has patience with that, with guys in scoring position. You would think a young guy, he'd been in a rush with that, but he's been patient." 

The 6-foot-4, 205-pound slugger grounded out to short in the seventh and popped to second in the ninth, falling short of his second four-hit performance this year. But with the three-hit night, Jimenez boosted his IL average and OPS to .319 and .967, respectively. Between the two levels this year, he's amassed a .318/.370/.566 slash line with 52 RBIs. 

After seeing the damage that Jimenez can do on a given night, Tomberlin drew a few comparisons between him and another White Sox player who recently took the Minors by storm.

"It's like [Yoan Moncada], who was here last year. He has some flashes of things that are like, 'Wow, that's awesome.' [Jimenez] has that kind of game-changing ability," Tomberlin said. "It's fun and we're just trying to keep him focused. ... It just seems he has a controlled aggression to it. I've seen it several times where his approach has room for error. I just think that's a polish-type of approach."

After the Indians rallied to tie the game, 5-5, the Knights walked it off in the 10th on a sacrifice fly by Dustin Garneau. It made a winner of Carson Fulmer (5-5), who struck out two in a perfect inning.

Andrew Battifarano is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @AndrewAtBatt. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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