By Todd Johnson
He had only been a Pelican for a week yet Eloy tweaked his hamstring in the sixth inning of yesterday’s game between Myrtle Beach and Salem. I talked with Scott Kornberg after the game and Scott was not worried at all. For now, he is considered day-to-day.
Last year, at South Bend, Eloy played in 112 out of 140 games. The year before in Eugene, he played in 57 out of 74. So far at Myrtle Beach, he’s played in just eight out of 44 games. For those of you that are exasperated, you probably should revel in the fact that Eloy has never had surgery for any of his ailments. While most of them are hamstring related, this Spring’s bone bruise was the only hard tissue injury.
While fans may get exasperated and fearful of his many minor injuries, I had been thinking something totally different. I was wondering “when” Eloy would be getting out of Myrtle Beach and heading to Tennessee. In just his eight games in 2017, he’s hit .333 with two home runs, drove in five runs while getting on base at a .438 clip.
The only ones who might really be getting worn out are the pitchers in the Carolina League. The book on pitching to Eloy this year begins with a steady diet of curve balls until Eloy hits one, walks, or the pitcher is required to throw a fastball for a strike in the zone. Yesterday, I saw Eloy rip a fastball down and in off-the-wall on a 3-2 count. The ball was hit so hard that Eloy was limited to a single. He didn’t even think about trying to go to second.
Eloy easily recognized how he was being pitched. He seems pretty amenable to it and has not been chasing balls out of the zone. This is something he did not do last year in South Bend. When he gets his chances this year, he is destroying the baseball.
Despite these many levels of exasperation, the one person in all of this who is as cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce is Eloy.
I think Eloy will be back in a couple of days and he will be bashing baseballs with regularity. I am, for the most part, realistically thinking he will be in Tennessee by the middle of June if he can stay healthy. And to be quite honest, just based upon the spring he had in Arizona, a stop in AAA Iowa is not really necessary for him to get to Chicago. He may be just 20 years old, but his bat far surpasses his age.
It might be quite progressive of me to say that he could be in the major leagues by the end of the year, but it’s not unrealistic with his talent, pitch recognition skills, and the ability to drive the baseball with authority. He is a manchild. He has his own goals and I think they match up well with the Cubs.
Some people think that there might not be any room for Eloy. As Ian Happ has shown this year, if you can hit, the Cubs will make room.