[Originally produced for assignment with the College of Media and Publishing]
The Chicago Cubs intend to hold on to Eloy Jimenez, one of their prized prospects, beyond the 1 August trade deadline.
Jimenez, an outfielder from the Dominican Republic, has long been considered a high-ceiling prospect since before he was signed by the Cubs in July 2013. Modest developmental seasons in rookie and short-season leagues in 2014 and 2015 had tempered expectations. This year, playing full-season baseball for the first time as a 19-year-old, Jimenez has delivered a breakout performance, posting an on-base percentage of .372 and a slugging percentage of .527 through 80 games.
His strong early-season performance earned him a place at the Futures Game, an annual showcase for minor league players, held in San Diego last Sunday. He made the most of the opportunity to show his talents on a larger stage, coming off the bench to go 2-for-3 with a home run, and adding an impressive leaping catch in right field. His performance before a large crowd and leading industry figures drew praise from prospect specialists including Ben Badler and Keith Law, respectively of Baseball America and ESPN. Law suggested that Jimenez’s catch may have been the best ever made in a Futures Game.
The Cubs have just completed a strong first-half of the season with a seven-game lead in their division, and are in position to strengthen for a play-off run by trading from their deep minor league system. The recent performance of Jimenez could make him an attractive target for potential trade partners, but according to David Kaplan of CSN Chicago and ESPN 1000 the Cubs are reluctant to include Jimenez in any deal.
Responding to Badler’s positive review of Jimenez’s pre-game batting practice display, Kaplan wrote: “That’s why the @Cubs are resisting efforts from others to trade for him.”
The Cubs are likely to be involved in numerous discussions with other teams until the trade deadline. Their rich farm system and competitive needs make them an attractive trading partner, but it appears that Jimenez will be hard to prise away from the Cubs as they try to deflect suitors towards other prospects.