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Christmas in June

The promotion of Eloy Jiménez is the centerpiece of a heap of presents for White Sox fans

Chicago White Sox Photo Day
This Way to the Promised Land: All-Everything Eloy Jiménez is the headliner among a ton of delightful promotions made on Thursday.
Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images
Brett Ballantini started at South Side Sox in 2018 after 20 years of writing on basketball, baseball and hockey, including time on the Blackhawks and White Sox beats. Follow him on Twitter @BrettBallantini and email your site feedback to

It was a big deal for seamstresses throughout the Chicago White Sox system, busy fastening new names to fresh uniforms.

Outfielder Eloy Jiménez, catcher Seby Zavala and closer Ian Hamilton all moved up from Double-A Birmingham to Triple-A Charlotte on Thursday.

All three are Top 30 prospects in the White Sox system and 2018 Southern League All-Stars, with Jiménez being the No. 1 prospect in the system. He entered the season as the No. 4 overall prospect in all of baseball.

Jiménez hit .317 batting average for the Barons, with 36 runs scored, 15 doubles, two triples, 10 home runs and 42 RBIs in 53 games. The 21-year-old leaves the Southern League ranked second in batting average, tied for fifth in homers, tied for second in RBIs and first in slugging percentage (.556). He was the cornerstone of last summer’s Jose Quintana trade with the Chicago Cubs.

Zavala has appeared in 56 games with Barons this season, with a .271 batting average and 32 runs, seven doubles, 11 home runs and 31 RBIs. The 24-year-old was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 12th round in 2015. Zavala’s overall consistency and improved defense are reasons cited for his promotion in front of more ballyhooed, higher-picked catcher Zack Collins.

Hamilton has appeared in 21 games this season with the Barons, with a 2-1 record, 1.78 ERA and 34 strikeouts over 25 13 innings. He has 12 saves this season, good for second in the Southern League. The 23-year-old was selected by the White Sox in the 11th round in 2016.

To make room for the additions, Knights catcher Brett Austin has gone on the disabled list and outfielder Michael Saunders was released.

Coming up from the High-A Winston-Salem Dash to Birmingham are RHP Dylan Cease, LHP Bernardo Flores, closer Matt Foster, RHR Zach Thompson, and outfielders Luis Basabe, Joel Booker and Alex Call.

Cease is the headliner among this group of stars, another piece of the Quintana deal last summer. He was 9-2 with a 2.89 ERA and 1.12 WHIP over 71 23 innings. He led the Dash at the time of his promotions in both wins and strikeouts (82).

Flores has been phenomenal in the W-S rotation as well, going 5-4 with a 2.55 ERA in a staff-high 77 23 innings.

The entire outfield of Basabe, Booker and Call was promoted to Birmingham, leaving behind Blake Rutherford and Micker Adolfo. Similar to the case with the blue-chip Collins in Birmingham, Rutherford’s status as a prime prospect may be encouraging the White Sox to bring him along slowly, as his W-S stats certainly merit promotional consideration.

Booker led the Dash with a .297 average and was a standout in the recent All-Star Game. He also led the Dash with 14 steals, and had an .858 OPS. Basabe hit .266 for W-S and topped the team with an .873 OPS. Call compiled a .368 on-base percentage and led the Dash with 35 walks.

Foster replaces the departed Hamilton as Birmingham’s closer, having tallied a Dash-high seven saves in 21 games. He sported a 2.57 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in Winston-Salem, with 40 strikeouts against seven walks.

Bullpen mate Thompson led the Dash staff with a 1.78 ERA, adding 36 strikeouts in his 22 games.

First baseman Nick Basto was released, while reliever Joe Mockbee was sent back down to Kannapolis, and RHPs Connor Walsh and Cameron Seitzer went to Winston-Salem.

Moving from Low A-Kannapolis to Winston-Salem are RHP Lincoln Henzman, RHP Blake Battenfield, closer Tyler Johnson, SS Laz Rivera and outfielders Luis Gonzalez and Luis Robert.

Robert is the centerpiece player moving to W-S, having been tabbed as the regular Dash CF during spring training by White Sox director of player development Chris Getz. His 13-game (.289, with a .760 OPS) stopover in Kanny was a consequence of the thumb injury he suffered during the spring, making his time with the I’s a sort of injury rehab stint.

Rivera led Kannapolis with a .346 average and .897 OPS over 63 games. His on-base percentage was a delightful .395. His promotion makes room for top 2018 draft pick Nick Madrigal to join the Intimidators after the College World Series.

Gonzalez slumped late in the first half, but finished with a .300 average in Kanny. He had an .850 OPS in 55 games.

Henzman tied for the staff lead in wins (6-3), with a delicious 2.23 ERA in a staff-high 72 23 innings.

Battenfield has caused an even bigger stir as a starter, going 5-3 with a 2.00 ERA and 1.00 WHIP, both best among the I’s rotation members.

Johnson was 5-0 with a team-best seven saves, .096 WHIP and 1.33 ERA. He had 46 Ks against 10 walks in the first half.

Joining Kannapolis are Drew Harrington, Joe Mockbee (demoted from Winston-Salem) and infielder J.J. Muno (demoted from Birmingham).

Harrington arrives in Kannapolis from the AZL White Sox rookie team, before which he was an A-ball pitcher in the Atlanta Braves system. Overall in 2018, Harrington is 4-3, with a 7.32 ERA and 1.85 WHIP.