At the onset of the new International Free Agency rules in mid-2012, teams were tasked with acquiring as much young, impactful talent as they wanted (or were used to obtaining) while keeping an eye on their bonus pool allotment.
If a team went over their bonus pool, they’d be forced to pay 100% in taxes on the overage and be artificially limited int he amount they can spend on any player in the next period (later increased to two periods), effectively forcing them to sit out.
The Cubs, what with their savvy front office and all, were among the first teams to realize that completely blowing your budget in one period to get as much of the top tier talents might be worth the ensuing penalties. So in 2013, the Cubs blew their budget and, among others, signed two of the top available players (to many) in Gleyber Torres and Eloy Jimenez.
Although Torres has since moved more quickly throughout the system, it was widely believed at the time that Jimenez had the bigger overall offensive upside (one look at his frame would tell you as much). However, it was equally well known that Jimenez might require a bit more time to develop and smooth out the rough edges of his game to be polished up enough for that upside to show.
Well, it’s been a few years, and 2016 figured to be a big one for Jimenez. In fact, it seems like a lot of folks pegged Jimenez as a big time breakout candidate before this season even started. So far, it seems that they may have been right.
Over the last six games, for example, Jimenez has 13 hits (including a double and three home runs), two walks, a stolen base and just five strikeouts. His last game (Thursday) was the perfect cap to a scorching hot week, as Jimenez finished 2-4 with two home runs and 3 RBI. You can watch his second home run from yesterday’s game:Jimenez’s season line is now up to .326/.357/.500 (.400 wOBA) on the season for South Bend which would be great for any player, but is downright exceptional for a 19-year-old at this level.
Although it would be extremely aggressive, he might even see a mid-season promotion if he can keep this up. It seems he’s turned the corner from breakout candidate to breakout haver.