Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Eloy Jimenez's new contract means he'll be there on opening day
The service time waiting game likely no longer applies to hot White Sox prospect Eloy Jimenez, and here's why that will matter in Fantasy.
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Well, I guess Eloy Jimenez did a lot of work on his defense in the last week.
The White Sox signed their prized top prospect to a six-year contract with two option years, ensuring Jimenez a payday and the White Sox some cost certainty. More importantly, it ensures Fantasy players Jimenez will be available on opening day. That's not nothing.
Jimenez was optioned to the minors March 13, despite hitting .337/.384/.577 between Double-A and Triple-A, ostensibly to get a bit more seasoning. Of course, we all knew that wasn't the real reason; it was to keep Jimenez under control for seven years rather than six. With eight years of control guaranteed, we'll see Jimenez in the White Sox's lineup, likely right there in the middle.
That isn't necessarily huge news for his Fantasy value in remaining drafts, but it's not nothing. Prior to this, we didn't quite know when Jimenez would be in the big leagues. We expected Ronald Acuna to be called up early last season, but he ended up missing the first 22 games of the season for the Braves and for Fantasy players. How much should that cost certainty be worth?
Expect Jimenez to see a big jump in his Average Draft Position over the final eight nights of drafts. While Vladimir Guerrero sucked the oxygen out of the prospect room for Fantasy players with an ADP of 54.0, Jimenez's ADP was 128.4. It hadn't moved much since news of his demotion because that was already baked into his price. Now that we know he'll be up on Day 1, it should start climbing. And, to be honest, a 10th-round pick for a player with this kind of talent never made much sense.
Just ask our own Heath Cummings. He has featured Jimenez in basically all of his preseason content, and had him ranked 66th overall even before this news. Jimenez isn't quite on Guerrero's level as a prospect, but he isn't far off coming off his 2018. He is ranked as a unanimous top-four prospect in 2019 lists, and it's not hard to see why. He has the potential to be a four-category stud, even as a rookie.
After all, he dominated both of the upper levels of the minors, hitting .317/.368/.556 with just a solid 17.1 percent strikeout rate at Double-A. He followed that up by hitting .355/.399/.597 in Triple-A, striking out just 13.2 percent of the time. That kind of strikeout avoidance married with power has the potential to make Jimenez a special Fantasy asset.
You won't get stolen bases from him, but that's about all he'll be missing if everything goes right. His profile could look a lot like teammate Jose Abreu's in a best-case scenario, with enough power, run production, and batting average to be helpful in all three facets.
There's risk associated, as there is with any 22-year-old making his MLB debut, but there's a lot of agreement among various projection systems about Jimenez:
All projected prorated to 155 games
Those numbers may not immediately jump off the page, but you have to remember that projection systems tend to be pretty conservative with young players. That's actually a great line for a rookie projection, and there's obviously upside above that. One thing PECOTA offers is a range of projected outcomes, and here is Jimenez's 80th percentile, prorated to 155 games:
This is a potential impact bat, and if you've drafted already, you probably got a great value. If you haven't drafted yet, you will want to start looking for him in the sixth or seventh round. That might be a bit bold, but if you want the excitement of the best prospect (making his debut on Opening Day), that's the price you'll have to pay. He should be worth it.
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