An Eloy Among Men: Jimenez Making Loud Noises in South Bend
If your neighborhood is anything like mine, Fourth of July lasts at least a week. You go 11 or so months without hearing any fireworks and then a few start going off here and then in the days leading up to the actual holiday. And then, of course, there are the requisite few days of fallout in which surplus and clearance Roman candles and firecrackers are set off at all hours of the day. It seems like these shenanigans start earlier and end later each year too.
I have to think the South Bend Cubs’ neighbors are starting to get exasperated with such exploits over at Four Winds Field these days. After all, the low-A team has been thundering away already this spring, and it appears that one of the biggest culprits is just getting started. After remaining relatively quiet for the first month or so of the season, Eloy Jimenez is nothing less than a home run waiting to happen of late.
After lighting his first bottle rocket in his fourth game, the 19-year-old Dominican product went 26 games without so much as a single whistling kitty chaser. I guess there were the occasional snakes and sparklers. Cute for the kids, sure, but nothing to really get the propectniks geeked up. Once mid-May rolled around and the weather in South Bend warmed a bit, however, Jimenez decided it was time to bust out the M-80’s and holiday shells.
By that, I mean that the kid has now launched seven home runs in his last 16 games to move him to within one tater of the Midwest League lead. As you can see from the video above, the most recent dinger was a walk-off blast that was such a moonshot the left fielder didn’t even see it until it landed deep in the grass in left-center. And he hit it while draped in those sweet spangly duds, which was fitting.
It’s not just home runs, either. Jimenez’s 62 hits are tops among his low-A peers and his .557 slugging percentage is 82 points better than second place. He also leads the league in total bases with 102, 18 more than the next-best total. Have I mentioned that he won’t turn 20 until late November and that the average age of the league in which he’s playing is just over 22 years old? Well, I guess I just did.
Eloy Jimenez is, quite literally, a boy among men (or is it an Eloy among JiMENez?). The opposite could be said for the way he’s playing. To see a player this young really starting to come into his own is one thing, but when you start to think about how much potential he still has…whoa. He’s got plenty of room to continue to fill out what is already an imposing frame (6-4, 205), and there’s also the continued acclimation to American culture. All that is to say the accolades and highlights are only just starting.
The 48/13 K/BB ratio isn’t something you’d want to see from a more experienced prospect, though that’s exactly the kind of thing the Cubs hope Jimenez can work out as he moves through the system. Hiss path to the Bigs will be significantly different from those of the more polished bats the Cubs have targeted with their recent high draft picks, which is bad news for opposing pitchers over the next couple seasons. Because of the depth ahead of him at various stops and the lack of need to rush him, Jimenez will have plenty of time to terrorize the minors while honing his craft.
I just hope the folks in South Bend have their earplugs ready, because this kid’s still got a few boxes of fireworks to set off before he’s through.