It took a month after the signing period opened, but Dominican outfielder Eloy Jimenez tonight signed a contract the Cubs for a $2.8 million signing bonus. Jimenez, 16, is the No. 1 international prospect who became eligible to sign during the current signing period. His contract also includes a $250,000 scholarship plan for college, which won’t count against Chicago’s international bonus pool.
Between Jimenez and the signing of Venezuelan shortstop Gleyber Torres on July 2, the Cubs have added the No. 1 and No. 2 international prospects from this year’s signing class.
Here is Baseball America’s scouting report on Jimenez. Subscribers can view scouting reports on every Top 30 international prospect for July 2.
1. Eloy Jimenez, of, Dominican Republic
Born: Nov. 27, 1996. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 200. B-T: R-R.
It’s hard to find one player who clearly stands above the rest in this year’s international signing class, but Jimenez is the closest thing to a consensus choice. He has traveled to play in international tournaments going back to 2008, when he played in the Cal Ripken World Series in Aberdeen, Md., and was teammates with Mets shortstop Amed Rosario. He went to Miami to play for the Dominican team that won its third consecutive championship in the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities World Series junior division last summer, following Nomar Mazara and Ronald Guzman of the Rangers in 2011 and Gustavo Cabrera of the Giants in 2012.
Jimenez plays in the International Prospect League and trains with Amauris Nina, the same trainer who produced Royals $3 million outfielder Elier Hernandez in 2011, and scouts think the two are comparable. Several teams see Jimenez as a better version of Hernandez. He has good baseball instincts, but his bat isn’t as advanced as Guzman’s or last year’s No. 1 prospect, Blue Jays Venezuelan shortstop Franklin Barreto. Some scouts have seen him hit in games, while others haven’t seen the game dominance that would merit the type of bonus he’s expected to command. His long arms create length to his swing and he will need to keep his hips from flying open too early, but he has good hand-eye coordination and uses the middle of the field. Jimenez has average raw power and a flat swing that results in hard line drives rather than loft power. With his size and strength potential, he could grow into above-average power. Some scouts think he has the ingredients to hit, so it may be a matter of making subtle adjustments.
Jimenez is athletic for his size and in January ran the 60-yard dash in 6.72 seconds, which is above-average speed. Others have said his speed plays closer to average and because of his frame and unusual gait, he will continue to slow down as he fills out, so he’s a corner outfielder all the way. With a slightly above-average arm, he should be able to play right field. The Cubs have the second-highest international bonus pool this year and are seen as the favorites to sign Jimenez, whose price tag is expected to be in the $2.4 million-$2.8 million neighborhood.