SAN DIEGO -- Only 19 years old and in Class A ball, Eloy Jimenez must feel like he's a long way from Wrigley Field. But the Cubs' No. 10 prospect used an appearance in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday to showcase the two-way skills that could get him there
SAN DIEGO -- Only 19 years old and in Class A ball, Eloy Jimenez must feel like he's a long way from Wrigley Field. But the Cubs' No. 10 prospect used an appearance in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday to showcase the two-way skills that could get him there quicker than you might think.
"Very fun day,'' Jimenez said afterward. "Very, very fun.''
Jimenez, who entered the game for the World team in right field in the fourth inning, challenged Red Sox super prospect Yoan Moncada for MVP honors in the World's 11-3 victory. He was 2-for-3 at the plate, with a three-run homer, a double and four RBIs, and he went from right-center field to foul territory to make a catch that qualified as the defensive play of the game.
Let's start there.
:: 2016 Futures Game coverage ::
Jimenez, who was shading Phillies outfielder Dylan Cozens toward center field, broke hard when the left-handed-hitting Cozens pulled a high fly toward the seats in foul territory. He zigged and zagged a little but never slowed down, then leaped at the railing along the line and grabbed the ball. Jimenez hit the wall about waist high and almost flipped over the barrier, but he hung on to make the catch.
After the game, Jimenez said that was "the most crazy'' catch of his career.
"When I hit the wall, I just tried to keep the ball in my glove,'' said Jimenez, who did interviews in English as well as Spanish, the result of work in the Cubs' language program. "If I jump and the ball drops, it's no good.''
Statcast™ data showed that Jimenez went 127.8 feet to make the catch. It would have ranked fifth this season in distance traveled by a right fielder to make a catch if it had happened in a Major League game.
"I just tried to help the team, no matter what happened,'' Jimenez said. "When I see the ball go to right field, I just try to make the catch.''
At the plate, Jimenez played a role in a two-run rally that started the World team on its comeback from a 3-0 deficit, then delivered a three-run home run in the ninth inning.
Jimenez came up against lefty Nate Smith with two outs and Manuel Margot on first base in the sixth inning, and he shot a hard double down the left-field line. Margot scored. Jimenez then scored on a single by Josh Naylor, bringing the World team within one run, 3-2.
Jimenez said he was looking for a slider from Smith, and he got one.
"I was looking for a slider first pitch,'' he said. "He's got a very good secondary pitch. I was sitting on a slider and I just swing it. See it and swing it.''
Jimenez blasted a 95 mph fastball from Ryne Stanek over the left-field fence for a three-run homer in the World team's seven-run ninth inning.
"I was just looking for something up,'' he said. "I saw it, and that was it.''
Jimenez was mobbed when he got back to the dugout.
"It was crazy, crazy,'' he said.
Signed to a $2.8 million bonus in 2013, Jimenez is hitting .332 with 10 home runs and 40 extra-base hits for South Bend. There's still a long way between him and Wrigley Field, but you've got to think he's going to get there sooner rather than later, unless the Cubs reluctantly agree to put him into a midseason trade.
Jimenez is sure to be in the discussions that Theo Epstein has between now and Aug. 1.
Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com.