South Bend slugger named MVP, Prospect of the Year of Class A circuit
Eloy Jimenez is a career .301 hitter over three seasons in the Minor Leagues. (Paul R. Gierhart/MiLB.com)
By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com | August 23, 2016 5:05 PM ET
Eloy Jimenez started the 2016 season as the Cubs' No. 10 prospect. Almost five productive months later, he'll end it with a couple of awards on his resume.
Now ranked as the Cubs' No. 2 prospect, Jimenez was named the Midwest League Most Valuable Player, Prospect of the Year and an end-of-season All-Star, the Class A circuit announced Tuesday. The honors are voted on by the league's 16 field managers.
As of Tuesday, Jimenez led the league in doubles (38), slugging percentage (.532), OPS (.910) and RBIs (77) and ranked second in extra-base hits (53) and total bases (218) and third in average (.337). He's also added 12 homers and eight steals through 106 games for Class A South Bend.
Signing with a $2.8 million bonus out of his native Dominican Republic in August 2013, the 19-year-old outfielder has had a breakout 2016 campaign in which he has earned two Player of the Week awards, a trip to the Midwest League All-Star Game (where he also earned MVP honors) and a spot on the World roster at the All-Star Futures Game in San Diego (where he went 2-for-3 with a homer and game-high four RBIs in an 11-3 win over the U.S.). On the strength of his offensive improvements, Jimenez climbed to No. 28 on MLB.com's overall prospect rankingfollowing the site's midseason update.
Jimenez was not the only South Bend Cub honored Tuesday. Preston Morrison, an eighth-round pick out of TCU in 2015, was named the circuit's top right-handed starting pitcher while going 9-4 with a 2.24 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 92 1/3 innings. Club skipper Jimmy Gonzalez also got a mention as the Manager of the Year after helping South Bend clinch a spot in the league playoffs with an Eastern Division first-half title. At 37-20, the Cubs also hold a half-game lead over Bowling Green in the second-half race.
Wisconsin was the only other club with two representatives on the Midwest League end-of-season All-Star team. Brewers No. 10 prospect Isan Diaz got the nod at shortstop, thanks to a league-leading 19 homers, 57 extra-base hits and 230 total bases for the Timber Rattlers. Nate Griep earned the right-handed reliever spot with a league-best 21 saves and a 2.28 ERA and 47 strikeouts over 44 appearances (51 1/3 innings).
Luis Arraez of Cedar Rapids took the second base spot with a league-best .347 average. Beloit's Evan Manarino and Lansing's Angel Perdomo split the left-handed starter All-Star position. Manarino leads the Midwest League with a 2.15 ERA in 121 2/3 innings, while Perdomo is tops in the circuit with 135 strikeouts in 109 1/3 frames.
Here is the complete list of 2016 Midwest League end-of-season All-Stars:
Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.