Yesterday Aaron noted that former Mariner and current Yakult Swallow Wladimir Balentien was threatening the NPB single season home run record. As an update, know that he has hit a solo home run today/tonight and now has 51, putting him four short of the record 55, held by Sadaharu Oh, Tuffy Rhodes and Alex Cabrera.
My question — and anyone with good knowledge of the NPB should chime in — is whether or not he’ll get anything to hit once he gets to 55. A decade ago when Rhodes threatened the record it was widely assumed — and there much evidence showing — that he was stuck on 55 when opponents refused to give him anything to hit, lest a non-Japanese player break the immortal Oh’s record. I’m not sure if Cabrera got that treatment too. Or if, in reality, it was really a major factor in Rhodes not breaking Oh’s record.
I assume that a decade in which several Japanese players have dominated in the United States — and in which people are just generally cool about such things — will mean that Balentien will get pitches down the stretch. And I assume with 32 games left and only four homers to go, he’ll break that record.
White Sox’ no. 1 prospect Eloy Jimenez is likely to be removed from Dominican Winter League play following a recent quad injury, Bruce Levine of WSCR-AM reports. While the injury happened fairly close to the end of Jimenez’s scheduled playing time this offseason, it’s still of some concern for the club as the 22-year-old outfielder continues to move closer to his major league entrance in 2019.
Jimenez made a considerable jump from Double-A Birmingham to Triple-A Charlotte in 2018. He obliterated the competition at both levels and capped his season with a combined .337/.384/.577 with 22 home runs, 75 RBI and a .960 OPS through 456 plate appearances. By season’s end, he not only topped the charts in the White Sox’ own farm system, but was ranked first among all outfield prospects and third among all MLB prospects (per MLB Pipeline).
This isn’t Jimenez’s first brush with injury, though he has yet to contract anything serious enough to slow his rocket-like ascent through the minors en route to his first major-league gig. The young slugger was sidelined for several weeks with a left adductor strain in July and suffered some late-season flu symptoms in August, but even with this most recent complication, remains on track for his debut in the spring of 2019.