Eloy Jimenez may not have won a minor league home run derby Monday, but he earned plenty of comparisons to Roy Hobbs. The Cubs’ highly regarded prospect emulated Robert Redford’s character in a memorable scene from “The Natural,” when he took out a light with a towering blast to left field.
Eloy Jimenez channels Roy Hobbs. pic.twitter.com/mfrGPa8lrb
— MLB (@MLB) June 20, 2017
It was like a scene out of “The Natural” for top @Cubs prospect Eloy Jimenez at the Carolina League Home Run Derby. https://t.co/76GygXjYQl pic.twitter.com/BOmPHrQibs
— MiLB.com (@MiLB) June 20, 2017
It remains to be seen if Jimenez becomes “the best there ever was in this game,” as Hobbs says he could have been in the film, but the 20-year-old from the Dominican Republic has shown plenty of power in his young career. Signed by the Cubs for $2.8 million in 2013, Jimenez had a .532 slugging percentage last year for South Bend of the Class A Midwest League, and this year he’s slugging .546, with a .927 OPS, for Myrtle Beach in the more advanced Carolina League.
Jimenez showed why some have likened him to the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton when he launched a pitch into the light tower over left field Monday at Salem (Va.) Memorial Ballpark. “All the kids got against the wall as if they could catch it, then looked and ran like crazy to get away from the glass falling,” Myrtle Beach manager Buddy Bailey said of the blast (via milb.com).
Bailey added that, in his 36 years of experience in professional baseball, he had never seen a ball land at that kind of spot “between the [foul] poles.” Alas, Jimenez had to settle for quality over quantity when Jake Gatewood of the Carolina Mudcats beat the former head-to-head before going on to win the Carolina League derby.
Gatewood spoke of the fun he had going up against “guys who are going to play in the big leagues,” and some believe Jimenez might soon be on a fast track to The Show. Before then, though, Jimenez’s name will be popping up in a number of trade-deadline scenarios for the Cubs, who could deal him for pitching help, much as they traded Gleyber Torres last year in a package for Aroldis Chapman.
In the meantime, here’s the scene from “The Natural” where Hobbs does his best Eloy Jimenez impression.