The statline looks pretty impressive for Eloy Jimenez’s 2017 debut. He went 3 for 7 with three walks, two of them intentional, one a walk-off. The Cubs No. 1 prospect played in his first games in 2017 that mattered yesterday for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans after spending the first month and a half of the season recovering from a shoulder injury in extended spring training in Arizona. His presence with Myrtle Beach changed the course of the games and allowed the Pelicans to win a 13 inning affair in the nightcap of a doubleheader.
In game one, Eloy strode to the plate in the first inning with men on base. He blistered a pitch to left field at over 103 mph. It drove in a run, and the Cubs prospect had announced his 2017 debut with authority. He would add one more hit in the first game of the doubleheader as the Pelicans cruised to a 7-0 victory.
Throughout the game, announcer Scott Kornberg had detailed anecdotes about Eloy’s legendary batting practices last fall in the Carolina League’s Mills Cup Championship Series. The camera followed Eloy’s every move on the field and in the dugout. Eloy was seen joking in the dugout with teammates and smiling.
Considering how well he hit the ball in spring training this year with the big league club, Jimenez’s profile has been amped up for 2017. However, Jimenez missed the first six weeks of the MiLB season due to some soreness in his throwing shoulder. He did catch several balls in left field in game one, but his arm was never really tested.
When game two came around, Eloy was penciled in as the DH, and it would be a long game.
For most of the nightcap, the Pelicans trailed and were down 4-0 entering the bottom of the seventh, the limit for minor league doubleheaders. Somehow, the Pelicans scored four runs and Eloy had a chance to win it in the seventh but failed to come through.
Seven hours after the games began, the Pelicans won in the 13th. It was a strange way to win. Twice in extras, Eloy was walked intentionally when first base was open when there was a man on second. Sound strategy. Then in the thirteenth, the Pelicans had men on first and third. With one out, Outfielder Daniel Spingola was walked ahead of Eloy to load the bases and make a force at any base. Eloy, with his excellent pitch recognition skills, never took the bat off his shoulder. Instead, four straight balls went past him, including one near his head, and the Pelicans won on a walk-off walk.
It was a mind blowing ending to a very long day.
After that, the following is clear:
1. Eloy is healthy.
2. Eloy is still seeing the ball extremely well.
3. Eloy has an immediate impact on the lineup when he is in it.
It was only one day, but in those two games, Eloy helped get the Pelicans two wins—two of many more to come.
Lead photo courtesy Todd Johnson