By Todd Johnson
It did not take Eloy Jimenez very long to make an impression for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. On Sunday, the 20-year-old made his first two starts of the season for the Cubs high A affiliate. In game one, he went two for three with an RBI single. I’m game two, he went one for four with three walks, including the walk-off walk in the 13th inning. The two wins helped bring Myrtle Beach within one game first place Buies Creek.
The heavens did not open up when Eloy hit, but his presence did affect the outcome of the game several times. His first two walks in the second game were intentional as first base was open with a man on second both times. Surprisingly in the 13th, Daniel Spingola was walked ahead of him to load the bases. Eloy promptly walked on four pitches, his third free pass of the day.
I took away three things about Eloy from the seven hour marathon doubleheader
1. His pitch recognition skills are sharp as can be after missing six weeks of baseball. While he did not hit a homerun, he did hit a single over 100 miles an hour. He scalded the ball to left field. If he only had a little lift the ball would have the exited the stadium in a quick manner. In the game’s most critical moment, he had the patience and skill not to swing at four balls out of the zone.
2. The TV cameras constantly showed Eloy’s smile in between it at-bats and in between innings. He is such a good teammate and so much fun to be around. He looked like he was having the time of his life talking with Carlos Sepulveda and Eddy Martinez. His spirit and energy should be a boost to the team.
3. He looked pretty decent out in left field in the first game and made several catches. However, not once was his injured throwing arm really tested. In the second game he was the designated hitter.
Myrtle Beach is now 21-16 and heading into a series with the first place team. Eloy’s arrival will change the lineup quite a bit. His presence in the middle today caused several discombobulations by the opposing manager.
As a hitter, he provided protection for those in front and behind him in the lineup. The top of the order should get better pitches to hit and those behind him should get the same as Eloy will be on base at a pretty good clip.
I don’t have an idea as to how long Eloy will be a Pelican, but while he is on the team, his effect will be immense. He is the type player everyone thinks he is. In just one day, the impact of his name written down twice in the lineup helped to win two games. And he didn’t have to hit a home run to do it.