March 2, 2012; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays catcher Antonio Jimenez (71) poses for a portrait during photo day at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

LaCava: A.J. Jimenez is a sleeper

Defensively-gifted Blue Jays catching prospect A.J. Jimenez opened eyes with both his glove and bat last season, so it’s no surprise that in an article on Baseball America yesterday (behind a paywall), assistant general manager Tony LaCava called the Puerto Rican backstop a sleeper and “arguably the best defensive catcher” that Toronto currently has in its minor league system.

The short article is definitely worth a read, as it has quotes from Jimenez, LaCava and current Blue Jays reliever Evan Crawford, who spent only a few weeks with Jimenez at Double-A New Hampshire this season prior to getting called up to Toronto but raved about the catcher, saying that “he’s one of the most athletic people I’ve ever met in my life” and that “he’s going to be something special.”

Coming off of an impressive 2011 campaign that saw him set new career-highs in doubles (29), walks (28), batting average (.303) and on-base percentage (.353) in a career-high 102 games, Jimenez is off to a slow start offensively with New Hampshire this season with a .236 average and .585 OPS in 14 games but has, however, already caught six of 13 basestealers for a 46% mark.

More importantly, Jimenez has been reunited with Fisher Cats manager Sal Fasano, as the pair developed a special bond when they were previously together in 2010 with the Class-A Lansing Lugnuts.

Getting to know him both as a player and a person, Fasano not only had high praise for Jimenez but taught him the intricacies of being a catcher, including how to frame pitches. Another year under Fasano this season should only help Jimenez continue to grow.

Here’s a clip of Jimenez making a tag at home during Arizona Fall League play in 2009:

- JM

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Tags: A.J. Jimenez AJ Jimenez Lansing Lugnuts New Hampshire Fisher Cats Sal Fasano Tony LaCava Toronto Blue Jays

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