The South Bend Cubs’ Opening Day roster includes five players ranked by Baseball America among the top 30 Chicago Cubs prospects, including 2013’s top international signee, outfielder Eloy Jimenez.
Jimenez (No. 9), a Dominican Republic native who turned 19 in late November, will be making his full-season debut with South Bend after playing rookie ball in 2014 and short-season in 2015. Last year he batted .284 with 7 HR and 33 RBI in 57 games. According to Baseball America, “Jimenez has the most raw power of any Cubs minor-leaguer … when he fully grows into his body and learns to fully incorporate his lower half, he could be a physical monster of the Jorge Soler model … his bat could be special.”
Jimenez will be joined in the South Bend outfield by two other prospects ranked by Baseball America: Donnie Dewees (No. 17) and Eddy Julio Martinez (No. 28).
BA says Dewees “has the natural hand-eye coordination and at least plus speed — including some 4.0-second times to first base — to give him a chance to be an above-average hitter. … Dewees will have to hit a lot to be a regular, but his track record suggests that it’s possible.” He batted .266 with 5 HR, 30 RBI and 19 SB in 66 games with the short-season Eugene Emeralds last year.
Martinez, a Cuban free agent signed by the Cubs last October, will make his stateside debut with South Bend. He has experience playing for Cuban national teams, and turned 21 in January.
The South Bend pitching staff includes a pair of notable left-handers, Justin Steele (No. 14) and Carson Sands (No. 22). In 10 starts last year, Steele — “one of the Cubs’ more exciting young starters,” according to BA — went 3-1 with a 2.66 ERA, 38 strikeouts and 15 walks for short-season Eugene. Sands went 3-4 with a 3.92 ERA, 41 strikeouts and 21 walks in 14 starts for Eugene.
You can see the entire South Bend Cubs roster here.
South Bend is managed by Jimmy Gonzalez. You can read about him and his coaching staff here.