Prospect Profile: Eloy Jimenez Maturing Right Before Our Eyes
I think it’s safe to say that Eloy Jimenez is my favorite prospect in the Cubs organization. Sure, there are lots of other nice prospects like Gleyber Torres, Eddy Martinez, and Ian Happ, but there are none with the potential for power that Jimenez possesses.
Signed by the Cubs in 2013 at the age of 16, Jimenez made his debut in the Arizona Rookie League in 2014. He played 42 games in that first season in the states, hitting .227 with three home runs and 27 RBI. His weakness after his first year was simply experience. He just needed more time playing the game. That said, Jimenez just turned 19 in November and is still just a kid in many respects.
Most prospects come into an organization with a certain skillset that is tweaked over the course of their time in the minors. With Jimenez, that is not the case. He is a young man who is basically learning how to play the game as a professional. Every day is a learning experience.
Jimenez spent the 2015 season at short-season Eugene, where he hit .284 with 7 HR’s and 33 RBI in 57 games with one DL stint. He began to mature rapidly in fall instructs, taking on a leadership role with the young Latin players in camp. In spring training this year, Jimenez continued to mature and has been hitting moonshots in games, including two last week. While there was some improvement in 2015, the coming season will find Jimenez playing at low-A South Bend in a 144-game schedule that will give him plenty of time to develop his power.
What gets me so excited about this kid is that he is only now tapping into his power and we get to watch him as he does it. There are comparisons to Jorge Soler due to the physical resemblance, but their games are much different…for now. Baseball America says:
Jimenez has the most raw power of any Cubs minor-leaguer, with long levers that help them produce light tower power. He’ll always have some holes in the swing, but when he fully grows into his body and learns to fully incorporate his lower half, he could be a physical monster of the Jorge Soler model.
I may concur with that statement, but what gets me about Jimenez is what he can be. And I think this coming summer is when we are going to see him emerge to become a fully-formed monster at the plate. I plan on seeing many of his games on MiLB.TV and also in person across many parts of Iowa and Indiana in the next three months, as well as at Kane County in July.
Over the past 4 1/2 years of the Epstein era the Cubs have been blessed with having several power hitters come through the organization. If Eloy Jimenez develops the way everyone thinks he can, you can add him to that list.
For Jimenez to make the step to that power profile, he’s going to have to overcome some cold nights in April and May in the Midwest. Come June or July, however, his power should be very evident. In terms of numbers, I think we can expect to see a batting average of .280 to .290 and an OBP of around .350 to .360, I am still unsure about the number of home runs he will be able to hit, though.
Last year, Bobby Bradley lead the Midwest league in home runs with 27. The second-place finisher had 16. I think if Jimenez is to have a great year, a breakout year, we’re talking 20+ bombs. And that’s a fair assessment. I don’t think you can expect him to come out and go from 7 to 30+ longballs from one season to the next. It would be nice, just a little unreasonable to.
I am excited to see Jimenez above all others this summer. I can’t wait to sit in the stands taking pictures and video, the breaking down the video and reporting back on what I’ve seen. I may even Periscope his at-bats when I see him live. So much of my excitement is that it is thrilling to watch a player develop right before you. Not just any player either, but one with a lot of power. That exactly what we get to see in Eloy Jimenez, which makes this coming season so much fun.