The CCO’s Cubs Minor League Player of the Year for 2016 – OF Eloy Jimenez
What do you do for an encore when you are selected to the Future Stars squad, named both your league’s Most Valuable Player and Prospect of the Year, and Baseball America awards you with Low-A Player of the Year? You get named the CCO’s Minor League Player of the Year, which is what happened to South Bend outfielder Eloy Jimenez.
It has been seven years since a Low-A player was given this distinction, as Peoria outfielder Kyler Burke claimed the honors in 2009. That season, Burke was in the top three of the Midwest League in on-base percentage, slugging, and OPS while finishing sixth in hitting.
The Cubs are hoping for better results from Eloy Jimenez, who dominated the Midwest League in a similar way. The 19-year old led the Midwest League with 40 doubles, an OPS of .901, and a slugging average of .532. Jimenez was also second with 81 RBI, third with a batting average of .329, and tied for sixth with 14 home runs. The native of the Dominican Republic also had eight stolen bases, a .369 on-base percentage, 142 hits, 25 walks and 94 strikeouts in 432 at bats.
Following the South Bend Cubs’ early exit from the playoffs, Jimenez was assigned to High-A Myrtle Beach, who was going through their own post-season. Lining up in the clean-up slot, Jimenez was 3-for-11 (.273) with two RBI in three games.
In catching up with the outfielder toward the end of South Bend’s season, Jimenez said that he liked everything about his season after the cold (spring weather). Bothered by some minor injuries, Jimenez stated the he was trying to stay positive and focus on what he could control. Concerning his assignment to the Arizona Fall League, Jimenez felt that it was “a good opportunity” and that he “needed to work on everything”.
Indeed, the weak part of Jimenez’s game at this point is defense, where the outfielder has all the tools of a dominant right fielder, yet struggled to play left field. According to observers close to the team, Jimenez needs more consistency in his play, added maturity, and the ability to deal with “small hurts.”
As great a season as Jimenez had, he was not the only Cubs’ prospect that deserved consideration. Tennessee infielder Chesny Young ended the regular season with the Southern League’s highest batting average, as he went .303/.376/.387/.763 with 25 doubles, two triples, four home runs, 16 stolen bases, and 37 RBI and 60 runs scored in 491 at bats. Outfielder Bijan Rademacher had a combined season that most years would have garnered him top honors. Rademacher split time between Tennessee and Iowa, going .307/.385/.466/.851 with 22 doubles, 10 home runs and 42 RBI. And third baseman Jeimer Candelario was sensational after being promoted to Iowa, batting .333/.417/.542/.959 with 22 doubles, three triples, nine home runs, and 54 RBI in only 76 games.
Eloy Jimenez ran away with our first ever CCO Twitter poll, grabbing 83% of the vote to 14% for early leader Jeimer Candelario. Chesny Young got 2% while Bijan Rademacher received 1%.
This concludes our regular season coverage of the Chicago Cubs’ minor league system. Down on the Farm will step aside for the next two weeks to allow for full coverage of the Cubs in their Major League postseason. Down on the Farm will return on Oct. 10 with a preview of the Arizona Fall League. Until then, this is Tom U., signing off.
- The CCO’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year for 2016 – Trevor Clifton
- The CCO’s Short-Season Player and Pitcher of the Year for 2016 – Isaac Parades, Jose Paulino