The last waiting game begins now.
Eloy Jimenez was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte on Wednesday as part of the White Sox latest round of roster cuts in spring training. The No. 1 prospect in the organization begins his final few weeks as a minor leaguer before making his major league debut, which is expected to come before the end of the season's first month in April.
Joining Jimenez in heading to Charlotte was Dylan Cease, the organization's No. 3 prospect who will be getting his first taste of Triple-A action this season. Catcher Seby Zavala and Jordan Stephens were also optioned to Charlotte. Outfielder Micker Adolfo was optioned to Double-A Birmingham.
The White Sox also sent Zack Collins, Jimmy Lambert, Donn Roach and Luis Robert to minor league camp.
Jimenez is the No. 3 prospect in all of baseball and had himself a monster season in the minors in 2018, finishing with a .337/.384/.577 slash line, 22 home runs and 75 RBIs in 108 games between Birmingham and Charlotte. General manager Rick Hahn faced a ton of questions all season long about when Jimenez would reach the majors, but the White Sox opted to keep him away from the big leagues in 2018. He'll likely stay in the minors several weeks into the major league season. After a certain point, he will be unable to amass enough service time to register a full year of major league service, which will allow the White Sox to gain an additional year of control on the end of Jimenez's contract.
Hahn and the White Sox have never said that the service-time issue is why Jimenez has yet to make his major league debut, but the team is not doing anything that goes against the rules, no matter the number of complaints about how teams across the league - like the Toronto Blue Jays with top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the Cubs back in 2015 with Kris Bryant - deal with the financial realities of the game.
Cease will likely join Jimenez in the major leagues at some point during the 2019 season. Hahn said multiple times during the offseason that Cease is now on a similar track to the one Michael Kopech was on last season, when the top-ranked pitching prospect in the organization debuted in August.
Zavala is another candidate to make his major league debut sometime in 2019, though perhaps more likely once rosters expand at the end of the season.