Considered MLB.com's top international prospect in 2013, Eloy Jimenez signed with the Cubs as a 16-year-old and it seemed like his career was about to take off. But a tough season in the Rookie-level Arizona League grounded him for a while.
Now in his second season, Chicago's ninth-ranked prospect is looking to prove he is the player who garnered all that hype. In his latest push, Jimenez went 3-for-3 with a solo shot as Class A Short Season Eugene topped Hillsboro, 6-2, on Wednesday at Ron Tonkin Field.
"He wants to perform much, much better than he did last year. He knows his competition, what he's capable of doing and he's trying every day to do his best," Emeralds hitting coach Ricardo Medina said. "That's what he's doing. He's trying to become a good hitter before a power hitter and let things happen, be selective, get a good pitch."
Jimenez slapped a single to left field in the first inning and attempted to steal his fourth bag of the season, but was thrown out by catcher Jose Queliz. In his second at-bat, the 18-year-old led off the fourth with a home run to left.
"He was trying to make contact, try to use the whole field. [Starter Cody Reed] was pitching down in the zone, locating his pitches. He happens to put it in [Jimenez's] hot spot and he took advantage of it," the coach said. "He didn't try to do too much with it, just put it in play and hit a line drive out of the park. He has that kind of power."
The blast was the second dinger in two games for Jimenez, who is hitting .321 with three extra-base hits and nine RBIs in 14 games with the Emeralds.
"He has tremendous power. Last night it was an opposite-way home run, another line drive. He wasn't trying to do too much, just trying to shorten his swing. He's a big guy with long arms, just trying to stay short, within himself and get line drives all over the place," Medina said. "He wants to move up and he knows that he needs to learn the game first of all. That's what the goal is, to learn as much as he can every day and play the best he can and be able to reach the Majors as soon as possible."
After signing with the Cubs in 2013, the Dominican Republic native hit .227 with three homers and 27 RBIs in 42 games. Since then, Medina has watched Jimenez mature and improve mentally, both on and off the field.
The left fielder's recent success also has been driven by the passing of Jimenez's uncle a couple days ago.
"He was one of the guys back home that was real good to him, one of his coaches and he wants to [succeed] to make his family and his uncle that already passed away happy," the coach said. "That was one of his dreams, to be together as a family in 'The Show,' and he knows he's not going to be there present right now, but he knows he's watching him play."
Medina said the team is giving Jimenez plenty of time to do whatever he needs to in order to help his family with the loss.
Jimenez's Arizona League teammate Justin Steele (2-0) allowed two runs -- one earned -- on four hits and two walks while striking out six in six frames. Francisco Carrillo worked around three hits over three scoreless frames to notch his first save for the Emeralds.
Reed (1-1) yielded six runs -- four earned -- on seven hits and a walk while striking out three in 5 1/3 innings.