Last year was a banner season for Eloy Jimenez. A shoulder injury pushed back his chance to build off that strong campaign for over a month, but he's already making up for lost time.
The Cubs' No. 1 prospect blasted his first home run of the year in Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach's 4-2 loss to Buies Creek on Monday. He went 2-for-4 has three RBIs since being activated off the disabled list Saturday.
Video: Pelicans' Eloy Jimenez hits his first '17 dinger
"It feels pretty good. I'm seeing the ball [well], but not like last year," Jimenez said. "I need to get my timing back a little more, just mentally I'm still [thinking] last year."
Whatever rust Jimenez is shaking off has yet to show since his return Sunday, when he played both ends of the Pelicans' doubleheader against the Lynchburg Hillcats. He struck out once in 14 plate appearances and walked three times in Sunday's nightcap -- two of which were intentional -- while going 5-for-11 with hits in all three games.
"I feel good, but I know I can feel much better," Jimenez said. "I think a couple weeks of just seeing more pitches and that's it."
Gameday box score
MLB.com's No. 10 prospect flew out to right field in the first inning against Astros starter Framber Valdez and singled to left off the southpaw in the fourth. Sebastian Kessay replaced Valdez to begin the seventh, and Jimenez greeted him by taking a 1-0 pitch over the fence in left-center.
"I was looking for a breaking ball," Jimenez said. "I saw it and I hit it."
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound outfielder had an opportunity to build on his first extra-base hit of 2017 as the tying run in the eighth after Daniel Spingola laced his 11th double of the season -- tied for fourth in the Carolina League, but flew out to left to end the threat.
Video: Myrtle Beach's Spingola robs home run in left
Jimenez suffered a bone bruise in his right shoulder making a throw from the outfield on March 14, and Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer thinks the 20-year-old adjusted his throwing motion to compensate for soreness he was feeling, which may have led to the additional injury. Two months later, Jimenez says he's back to full strength.
"I'm feeling 100 percent right now," he said. "Last month in Arizona, I felt good but also a little bad that I missed the start of the season. But I did what I needed to do to get back on the field to try to help my team, put the ball in play and get more game preparation."
Valdez allowed two hits and one walk while striking out five over six scoreless innings but left with the game tied, 0-0. Kessay (3-1) picked up the win when Buies Creek responded with four runs in the seventh and eighth -- two on a homer by Anthony Hermelyn.
Ryan Kellogg gave up two runs on six hits with one strikeout in 6 2/3 innings.
Tommy Thorpe (2-2) was tagged for two runs on two hits and three walks in 2 1/3 frames.