CHICAGO — White Sox left fielder Eloy Jimenez sent Vladimir Guerrero Jr. a text shortly after the Blue Jays promoted their prized prospect to the majors last month.
“I told him: ‘Keep working hard, you deserve it and congrats,’ ” Jimenez said April 26. “‘You’re one of the best players I’ve ever seen. Just keep doing what you’re doing and enjoy the game.’ ”
Guerrero responded with a thanks and a motivational message of his own.
“ ‘You too kid,’ ” Jimenez said Guerrero wrote. “ ‘Keep going.’ ”
Guerrero, 20, is the top prospect in the majors, according to MLB.com’s 2019 preseason rankings. Jimenez is No. 3 on the list.
The ties don’t stop there.
“Eloy and I have been friends for a long time,” Guerrero said Thursday via an interpreter. “I also texted him when he signed that (six year, $43 million) contract. Me thinking of him as a hitter, you guys know he’s a great hitter.”
Jimenez, 22, is working his way back from a high right ankle sprain. He’s rehabbing with Triple-A Charlotte, and his return to the Sox is imminent.
“As long as he’s continuing to improve, there’s a chance we’ll see him (in Houston),” Sox manager Rick Renteria said Friday. The Sox begin a series against the Astros on Monday.
Jimenez is hitting .241 with three home runs, eight RBIs and an on-base percentage of .295 in 21 games.
He missed the April 22-24 series in Baltimore and went to his hometown of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, following the death of his grandmother. Jimenez returned to the Sox on April 26 and suffered the ankle injury in the third inning against the Tigers.
He started the rehab stint this week. General manager Rick Hahn said the rehab assignment served multiple purposes.
“Between the (injury list) placement and the bereavement list (for the Baltimore series), he’s been away from live pitching for a while,” Hahn said Monday. “We need to get him his timing back as well.”
Jimenez homered in his second at-bat Friday against Lehigh Valley. He went 2 for 5 Thursday against Rochester.
Guerrero, a third baseman, spent his Thursday making his first appearance at Guaranteed Rate Field. He went hitless in four at-bats as the designated hitter.
On Friday, he hit his third homer of the season in the Jays’ 10-2 rout of the Sox. He went 1 for 4 and his hitting .210 (13 for 52) with eight RBIs in 17 games.
“You can see that he’s an extremely talented young man,” Renteria said. “He’s going to have a bright future and hopefully it doesn’t start against us.”
The son of the Hall of Famer remains confident.
“I’m just going to keep working to get better every day,” Guerrero said.
Guerrero showed signs of a breakthrough in the Jays’ last series against the Giants. He hit his first two homers Tuesday.
“It felt pretty good,” Guerrero said. “I felt very excited that I could help the team.”
Similarly, the first two home runs of Jimenez’s career came in one game — April 12 against the Yankees.
Guerrero said he hasn’t felt any added pressure with all the attention upon his arrival to the big leagues.
“Not at all,” Guerrero said. “I’m just trying to go out there, give my 100% and whatever happens, happens.”
And he’s taking in advice from his teammates.
“They just tell me to keep working hard every day, grind it out and that everything is going to be fine,” Guerrero said.
Guerrero said he and Jimenez have a similar approach.
“I’m just like him, I’m enjoying every moment, every at-bat, every game, everywhere I go,” Guerrero said. “So far, I’m enjoying everything.”