Today, Aroldis Chapman will join the Cubs bullpen and begin throwing 100+ MPH darts towards White Sox hitters – provided Kyle Hendricks doesn’t toss a nine-inning shutout. What that means, however, is that the Cubs former top prospect, Gleyber Torres, is really, officially gone.
In his absence (along with Willson Contreras’ promotion), there is a void atop the Cubs prospect rankings, with several candidates vying for the top spot. Among the most likely contenders, you’ll find the Cubs biggest 2016 breakout prospect, Eloy Jimenez.
Yesterday, Jimenez hit his 11th homer of the season – an absolutely towering shot to deep left-center field – and you can watch it right here:
Jimenez takes a 2-1 pitch and blisters it out to left center field for his 11th homer of the season. That homer was part of a 2-2 night, that came with a walk and pushed his season slash line up to an impressive .330/.370/.522. At just 19 years old, Jimenez continues to be one of the biggest offensive performers in the entire Midwest League – no, for real. Jimenez has the second highest batting average, 14th best OBP, the best SLG (by a country mile), and best OPS overall. A mid-season promotion to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans may be aggressive for a 19-year-old, but it may also be earned.
While Jimenez fights for his spot atop the Cubs prospect rankings, another young, South Bend outfielder – Eddy Julio Martinez – is fighting to move up the list and making a good case. Like Jimenez, Martinez also sent a ball over the left field wall yesterday, his ninth, and you can see it right here:
After striking out in his first plate appearance, Martinez took the first pitch in his next at-bat over the left field wall for his ninth homer of the season, tying the game for the Cubs. That homer was Martinez’s 9th of the season, and came as part of a 2-3 night with 4 RBI. Now, Martinez isn’t quite having the breakout season that Jimenez is, but as a 21-year-old in his first full professional season, he is doing quite well for himself: .263/.343/.416.
That said, he’s really turned things up lately. Since the beginning of June – and not including his 2-3, HR performance yesterday – Martinez is slashing .305/.389/.482 in nearly 200 plate appearances. During that stretch, he’s also walking more than 12.0% of the time and striking out at just a 20.0% clip. And the more recent you call the statistics, the better the numbers get. In other words, Martinez may have really figured out the Midwest League after a mediocre start in April.
Even as the Cubs promote and trade prospect after prospect, it always seems that there is another to take their place.