In a move that I had suspected might be coming, Eloy Jimenez was promoted to Myrtle Beach following South Bend’s playoff exit Saturday. The Midwest League MVP was penciled into the fourth spot as the Pelicans’ DH and he wasted no time making his presence felt.
Jimenez swung at the first pitch he saw in the 1st inning, grounding out to third and driving in Charcer Burks to tie the game at 1 run apiece. His next at-bat came in the 3rd inning with two out and Jimenez once again swung at the first pitch he saw, lining a single to left.
That aggressive approach continued in the 5th inning, when the 19-year-old phenom took a called strike before swinging at the next pitch to dig himself an 0-2 hole. And that’s when the real fun started. Contrary to my expectations, Jimenez took a borderline pitch from Leandro Linares for ball one. And then he took another. And another.
The three balls were barely outside the strike zone, pitches most hitters would have swung at even had they not been behind in the count. After working the count full, Jimenez then took low for ball four and trotted to first. Just look at the pitch sequence below and tell me you wouldn’t have been hacking at a couple of those.
To provide a little context, that walk came with the game tied 3-3 on the strength a Charcer Burks homer, a Donnie Dewees single, and a David Bote double. The Pelicans would go on to hang a five-spot in the 5th inning, taking the lead 6-3.
Jimenez led off the 7th by, you guessed it, swinging at the first pitch. After fouling off Billy Strode’s first offering, he took an inside pitch to even the count and then took another borderline outside pitch for a ball. He fouled off the fourth pitch, took the fifth for a ball, fouled off the sixth, and coaxed a walk on the seventh. I know you’re probably not going to believe this, but those last two balls were really, really close pitches too.
Seriously, that’s not the kind of plate appearance you’d expect to see from someone who won’t turn 20 until the end of November. Long home runs are cool and stuff, but what’s really impressive in a young player is patience. It’s even more so when you’re talking about a kid playing in his first game for a new team in the middle of a championship series.
Jimenez went on to fly out in his last at-bat of the game, lofting the first pitch (weird, right?) he saw from Matt Whitehouse out into right. By going 1-for-3 with an RBI, he helped the Myrtle Beach Pelicans come back for an 8-3 win to take one more step toward consecutive Mills Cup titles.
By working a pair of walks after being down in the count, Eloy Jimenez showed that he’s becoming the type of professional hitter who could eventually help the Chicago Cubs to win some big games.