Call it a compromise with the beleaguered fanbase; the White Sox on Sunday announced a callup of top pitching prospect Michael Kopech while simultaneously saying that Eloy Jimenez’s status would be reevaluated in a couple of weeks. It certainly suggests that Jimenez won’t make his major league debut until 2019.
Kopech decisively earned the promotion by nearly eliminating the walk from his game in recent weeks. He had a 27/0 K/BB ratio in his last three starts for Triple-A Charlotte. He walked a total of four batters in his last seven starts. It’s an incredible turnaround, considering that he walked at least four batters in nine of his first 17 starts, topping out at eight walks (plus two HBPs) over three innings on June 14. The improved control makes him well worth taking a chance on in mixed leagues.
Jimenez, too, has earned a shot by hitting .338/.382/.611 with 11 homers and just 22 strikeouts in 41 games since his promotion to Charlotte. It just makes less financial sense to give him one. Jimenez is about as close to a sure thing as position prospects get. He has exceptional bat speed, he already possesses major league power at age 21 and he makes a whole lot of contact at the plate. He doesn’t add much value defensively and there’s the chance he’ll have enough OBP issues to fall short of stardom, but he could fail to reach his prodigious ceiling and still be a fine regular for a long time.
Kopech, on the other hand, is a pitcher. Maybe he’ll be a superstar when he’s eligible for free agency after the 2024 season, but it’s likely that he’ll suffer at last one significant injury before then. His control could regress, and his stuff will probably diminish somewhat. As talented as he is, it’s still less than 50-50 that he’ll be worthy of a significant multiyear commitment by the time free agency rolls around. For Jimenez, it’s much closer to 80-20. If you’re the White Sox, there’s greater incentive to play around with Jimenez’s service time than there is Kopech’s. So, you bring up Kopech now. He’s earned it, and a team might as well use those bullets while it can. Jimenez, though, he’ll have to wait until mid-April 2019, pushing back his free agency until after the 2025 season. The game shouldn’t work that way, but since it does, the White Sox are making the right call for themselves.
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American League notes
– It was surprising to hear Justin Smoak cleared waivers; the guy has a 127 OPS+ this year and is making all of $4.125 million. There’s no commitment, either; the $8 million option on his contract for next year has just a $250,000 buyout. Considering that none of the AL contenders aside from Oakland should be completely satisfied with their 1B/DH situations, it’s bizarre that no one put in a claim. Still, it’s to the Jays’ benefit, since there could be a real market for Smoak before Aug. 31. He’s probably in their plans for 2019, so they don’t need to trade him. However, given the current free agent environment for non-star first basemen, it might make sense to take a prospect for him and look for a cheap alternative this winter.
– The Didi Gregorius heel injury is bad news for the Yankees, but it’s good news for everyone hoping Gleyber Torres will retain shortstop eligibility next year. He’ll man the position regularly while Gregorius is out, putting Neil Walker at second for now. Walker is s a sneaky mixed-league pickup, what with his solid .280/.365/.467 line in the second half. Still, Walker has had a rough year overall, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Yankees picked up some cheap infield help in the coming days.
– Aroldis Chapman could be DL bound after leaving Tuesday’s game with knee soreness. David Robertson is ailing as well — his shoulder is bothering him — so Dellin Betances and Zach Britton are possibilities for saves.
– Astros manager A.J. Hinch anointed Roberto Osuna the closer prior to Tuesday’s game and then used Osuna in the eighth and Hector Rondon in the ninth with a lead against the Mariners. Osuna is the favorite for saves at this point, but it doesn’t look like Rondon can be dropped in fantasy leagues.
– I was hoping the Astros would truly stretch out Brad Peacock after losing Lance McCullers, but while Peacock got the start Tuesday, he pitched just 1 2/3 innings against the Mariners. The Astros could have played things differently and had Peacock make a longer relief appearance last week in preparation to throw three innings or so in his start. Instead, he threw 25 pitches on Saturday, 19 on Sunday and then made the start on just one day of rest. None of it seems like a recipe for a real boost in fantasy value for Peacock.
– Stephen Gonsalves didn’t make the hoped-for first impression in his Twins debut Tuesday, giving up four runs before leaving with the bases loaded in the second inning against the White Sox. Gonsalves had a 2.96 ERA in Triple-A because the league was hitting just .187 against him. He walked 55 in 100 1/3 innings, and while his strikeout rate was good (95 K), it didn’t truly support the hit rate. He was also getting a below average number of grounders. Gonsalves has almost always posted strong minor league numbers and his stuff is adequate, but it’s a must that he cut down on the walks in order to survive in the majors. He’s just an AL-only option and not a particularly good one of those right now.
– It’d be nice to see Jabari Blash get an opportunity with the Angels now that Justin Upton (finger) is down for at least 10 days. Or if not Blash, then maybe Michael Hermosillo. But, for some reason, Kaleb Cowart, a quality defensive third baseman with one of the weakest bats in the league, has started in left field the last two games. I really don’t get it. Blash probably isn’t ever going to amount to much, but he has hit .321/.430/.702 with 26 homers in 262 at-bats for Triple-A Salt Lake this year. Cowart hit .287/.333/.456 with six homers in 258 at-bats for the same team.