Top prospect Jimenez among seven cut as Cubs trim roster

Top prospect Jimenez among seven cut as Cubs trim roster

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs trimmed seven players from big league camp on Friday, including top prospect Eloy Jimenez, who made quite an impression on manager Joe Maddon.

Jimenez, Chesny Young and Mark Zagunis were assigned to Minor League camp, while Victor Caratini, Jacob Hannemann, Pierce Johnson and Felix Pena were optioned to Triple-A Iowa. The moves reduced the spring camp roster to 43.

Jimenez, 20, went 9-for-28 (.321) in 16 games, with two home runs and two doubles. He is the organization's No. 1 overall prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com

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"What he showed to me was a tremendous understanding of the swing as a 20-year-old," Maddon said. "He stays inside the ball as well as the most-seasoned Edgar Martinez did. It's kind of like that approach, or like Miguel Cabrera. I'm not saying [Jimenez] is one of those guys yet, but that's his approach. It's really sophisticated for a 20-year-old.

"He's going to hit," Maddon said of the young prospect. "The velocity off the bat is incredible. He'll look awful on one pitch and then come back and hit a screaming line drive and make quick adjustments. He's really sophisticated and beyond his years at 20. I don't know when he's going to show up, but you know he's going to show up at some point. He's not many, many years off."

Actually, Maddon expects to see all seven of the players cut on Friday in the big leagues at some point. Pena appeared in nine games in relief last season for the Cubs when he was promoted in mid-August.

Pena earns the save

"Pena played [in the big leagues] and the other six guys will," Maddon said. "I don't know exactly when, but they will."

When Maddon met with Jimenez on Friday, he gave the outfielder some things to work on.

"He needs another solid year or so, a year and a half at least in the Minor Leagues before you consider [the big leagues]," Maddon said. "The outfield defense, running routes, baserunning, things of that nature, I definitely want to see him improve on, and that was part of the conversation."

• The Cubs have used the designated hitter this spring, so the pitchers have not had to hit, but that will change beginning Sunday. Maddon said even when they play an American League team, the Cubs will have the pitchers hit to get them ready for the season.

Kyle Schwarber started in right field on Friday while Jason Heyward moved from right to center. Maddon said Schwarber may switch from left to right, depending on the road ballpark this season. For example, Schwarber could start in right field at PNC Park, which has a little less area to cover.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.