2018 SSS Top Prospect rank: 1
SSS rank among all left fielders in the system: 1
The Chicago Cubs signed Eloy, a Santo Domingo, D.R., native, to a $2.8 million bonus on Aug. 1, 2013. Jimenez worked his way through the Cubs organization, moving up the prospect charts as he went and hitting light-tower home runs in the process. His best year with the Cubs came in 2016 with their A-team in South Bend, when he slashed .329/.369/.532 with 40 doubles, three triples, eight stolen bases, 14 homers, 81 RBIs, 25 walks (5.39%) and 94 strikeouts (20.26%) in 432 at-bats.
In 2017, Jimenez was hovering around 10th place on the MLB Pipeline prospect list and hitting .271/.351/.490 for the Cubs’ Single-A+ team in Myrtle Beach when he was traded to the White Sox on July 13 along with Dylan Cease, Bryant Flete and Matt Rose for Jose Quintana. The trade didn’t affect Eloy one iota, as he slashed .348/.405/.635 with 16 doubles, one triple, one stolen base, 11 homers, 33 RBIs, 17 walks (8.72%) and 37 strikeouts (19.00%) in 178 combined at-bats with Winston-Salem and Birmingham.
Eloy’s 2018 season got off to a late start due to a pectoral injury suffered during spring training, and he also missed a couple weeks in July with a strain in his left abductor muscle. However, those injuries didn’t affect his play on the field. In 53 games for Birmingham totaling 205 at-bats, he slashed .317/.368/.556 while playing half of his games in one of the toughest places to hit in the minor leagues, Birmingham. Eloy hit 15 doubles, two triples, 10 homers, 18 walks (7.89%) and 39 strikeouts (17.11%) for the Barons, ultimately earning a promotion to Charlotte on July 21. In 211 at-bats for the Knights, Jimenez wasn’t fazed by Triple-A pitching: He slashed .355/.399/.597, with 13 doubles, one triple, 12 homers, 33 RBIs, 14 walks (6.14%) and 30 strikeouts (13.16%).
Although Jiménez’s career strikeout is a solid 18.20%, he’s even made significant improvements in that department by cutting the whiffs down to just 15.3% this year. His walk rate is fairly low, but he has the plate discipline to avoid swinging at bad pitches when hurlers work around him; as a result, expect his walk rate to increase to better than 10% as he trusts the hitters behind him.
Jimenez does have a good-but-not-great arm, rating a 50 by many scouts. Actually, his throwing arm is fine; it’s a combination of a relatively slow release and reduction in accuracy that have dropped the rating. While he can play right field, he does seem best suited for left. He is considered a below-average on defense, as he’s gotten a bit slower as he’s gotten more muscular. That doesn’t mean he’s a total liability; he’s a sure-gloved defender and only made four errors in 2018, With Eloy’s work ethic and willingness to improve, he is likely to be a passable defender, and certainly not an embarrassment.
One caveat: if the remaining outfielders in the system continue to rake, it’s possible that Eloy may eventually have to move to first base in order to accommodate more athletic guys like Luis Robert, Luis Gonzalez, Blake Rutherford, Luis Basabe, Micker Adolfo, and others. Don’t expect that to happen immediately, however.
Service-time controversies that marred his possible 2018 debut with the White Sox were rendered moot this spring, when Eloy signed an eight-year contract extension that will keep him with the White Sox until he’s 30 years old.
That said, Eloy’s major league debut has been rougher than expected, at -0.7 bWAR (all due to defense) in his first two months, with a .220/.273/.390 slash in 34 games. Jiménez missed a few weeks after crashing into the left-field wall on a poor attempt at catching a home run 20 feet behind him in the stands, leaving him with a high ankle sprain that seemed as if it might force him to miss months. Ironically, for all of Eloy’s defensive woes, he has zero official errors with the White Sox this season.
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