Jimenez Puts Charge Into Midwest League All-Star Game

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa—Darin Gillies groaned. Fans at Veterans Memorial Stadium groaned. People in the press box groaned.

But Eloy Jimenez grinned.

The 19-year-old Dominican—who signed with the Cubs for $2.8 million in 2013—added to his breakout 2016 with a three-run, game-tying, first-pitch homer in the ninth inning Tuesday in the Midwest League all-star game as the East rallied from down 8-1 to beat the West 11-10.

Jimenez then made a great catch in the bottom of the inning against the left field stands in foul territory as the East protected its lead. For his efforts—Jimenez had four RBIs total—he was named Star of Stars, essentially the MVP of the game.

“I just (tried to) focus and be in the moment,” Jimenez said of his homer against the low Class A Clinton (Mariners) righthander. “Tried to hit a slider, a breaking ball, something up. He threw me a slider, and I swung and hit it well.”

Gillies relieved Brewers righthander Marcos Diplan—who was charged with two of the four runs the East scored in the ninth inning—and Jimenez jumped on his first pitch.

The success he had Tuesday has carried over from his first half, in which he’s leading or near the top in several offensive categories in the Midwest League.

Afterward, in the midst of a planned, post-game fireworks celebration, an elated Eloy signed autographs before meeting with reporters.

“It was awesome, very awesome,” he said of the home run. “It’s fun to celebrate with your teammates.”


Both managers did their best to use up their rosters. There were 60 players selected and 56 played. The teams combined to use 25 pitchers, with the East using 14.

If it was possible to throw three pitches and overshadow the other 24 pitchers who participated, 6-foot-6 Blue Jays lefthander Angel Perdomo did his best.

Perdomo, part of Toronto’s 2011 international class—along with the since-traded Miguel Castro, Jesus Tinoco, Alberto Tirado and lefthander Jairo Labourt—started to put things together in 2015 and has continued that progression this season, averaging 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings in 11 starts at Lansing.

On Tuesday, he relieved Lansing teammate Jon Harris and blew away Brewers catcher Mitch Ghelfi on three pitches.

“Three pitches and see ya later,” said Mark Johnson, the pitching coach at West Michigan and pitching coach for the East division all-stars. “He’s a tall kid with great angle on his fastball. It’s a new experience for him, but he’s got a great body and can create great angle. He was outstanding for three pitches.”

• Harris—whose 2.36 ERA would be among league leaders if he had enough innings to qualify—faced three batters and looked strong in striking out Eliezer Alvarez. He left after allowing a single to Brewers first baseman David Denson.

• Cubs center fielder Donnie Dewees—who leads the MWL with 11 triples and is among the toughest players to strike out—was impressive before and after the game. In batting practice he made consistent, hard contact with a smooth, level swing and excellent torso rotation. Equally impressive was how hard he went after the ball in shagging flies during BP, making at least one circus catch. In the game, he reached base three times on two hits and a walk. He also showed plus speed in scampering from first to third on a single to short right field, and he could have scored if given the green light.

• Twins catcher A.J. Murray—the club’s 15th-round pick a year ago from Georgia Tech—hit just one homer earlier in the day in the home run derby. In the all-star game itself, he hit a two-run blast to right field in the seventh inning against hard-throwing Cubs righthander Adbert Alzolay.

• Other all-stars who impressed included Diamondbacks righthander Justin Donatella, the 6-foot-6 former UC San Diego ace, who threw a scoreless inning and blew away Rays shortstop Jake Cronenworth, who otherwise showed a good approach with two walks, spitting on several offspeed offerings; Padres outfielder Michael Gettys stole two bases, showing his plus speed; Brewers third baseman Jake Gatewood had a booming RBI double in the first inning, although he later threw away a ball after making a nice scoop on a slow roller, and Diamondbacks DH Trevor Mitsui, who drove in three runs, including two on a long double in the first inning.

• Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker, the No. 5 pick a year ago, was selected for the all-star game but did not play because he is on the disabled list because of a hip flexor. The injury is not considered serious.

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