SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Eloy Jimenez emerged as a Statcast™ favorite during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game with a monster home run as well as sensational catch in right field. On Thursday, the Cubs' No. 2 prospect added to his quickly growing legend in an Arizona Fall League matchup between Mesa and Salt River at Salt River Fields by producing one of the hardest-hit balls in the Statcast™ era (2015-16).
Leading off the top of the eighth inning for Mesa, Jimenez, MLBPipeline.com's No. 23 overall prospect, scalded a 119.4 mph ground ball to Salt River third baseman Dylan Moore, who corralled the shot and threw to first for the out. It was the third-hardest hit ball of the year and the fifth-hardest ever recorded by Statcast™. Only Giancarlo Stanton ranked ahead of Jimenez in both categories, with the Marlins' slugger recording 17 of the 30 hardest-hit balls in 2015-16.
Jimenez's scorcher was unusual in that the ball never left the infield. Of the aforementioned top 30 exit velocities in 2015-16, only two had a shorter cumulative distance than Jimenez's 120-foot grounder.
Fastest recorded exit velocities
The shortest distance listed for a ball hit with a top-30 exit velocity was a 62-foot comebacker by Carlos Correa on April 8, which left the bat of the Astros shortstop at 118.2 mph. And only one of the 12 hardest-hit balls in the Majors during the Statcast™ era has resulted in an out -- a 119.8 mph grounder to short by Stanton that resulted in a force out at second.
Jimenez also recorded the second-highest exit velocity in Thursday's Fall League game with a 112.7-mph lineout to shortstop in the first inning.
That Jimenez has already become a Statcast™ hero this fall should not come as a surprise. Playing for the World Team in the SiriusXM Futures Game in July, the 19-year-old put two balls in play with a 105-plus mph exit velocity, hitting a booming, 105.3-mph home run as well as a 105.7-mph ground out. Jimenez's other hit in the contest, a double down the left-field line, registered at 99.9 mph. He also traveled an amazing 127.8 feet to make one of the best catches by an outfielder in 2016.
With Jimenez still in the nascent stages of his career, it's only natural to consider what he might accomplish. To go along with his early Statcast™ achievements, the 6-foot-4, 205-pound outfielder (nearly the identical size as Stanton when he was 19) is already viewed by scouts as one of the more dynamic talents in the Minor Leagues.
Signed by the Cubs for $2.8 million during the 2013 international period, Jimenez was named Midwest League MVP this season after batting .329/.369/.532 with 57 extra-base hits, including 14 home runs and a circuit-leading 40 doubles, with 81 RBIs over 112 games at Class A South Bend.