2013 Top Prospects #8: A.J. Jimenez
Jays Journal has jumped back on the prospect train. My erstwhile colleague Kyle Matte had to take a step back from writing to concentrate on real-life stuff like work and whatnot. Unfortunately I don’t have such problems, but have had my hands tied with other things, making it impossible to get the ball back rolling until now. As per Kyle’s original piece in the series, it was meant to be completed by the end of January. As this didn’t happen, and we are now well into the 2013 season, the rest of the players on this list will have (hopefully) had almost a half season under their belt.
Of course, the list was drawn up prior to this season, so I’m going to try and not let their 2013 achievements cloud what I am writing. It’ll be hard, but that’s what the 2014 prospect list will be for.
Another couple of quick notes. Kyle was probably more into the pure scouting side of things than I am so was comfortably able to break down mechanics of players swings/arm actions. I may need to rely more on scouting reports.
And, given the break between prospects, avid readers may need a review of the 2012 list thus far, I’ve appended it to the bottom (including the players 2013 assignments).
So, without further ado:
Name: A.J. Jimenez
Date of Birth: 5/01/90 (23)
Acquired: Drafted in the 9th round of the 2008 draft
High School: Academia Discipulus de Cristo (Bayaman, Puerto Rico)
Height/Weight: 6’0”/210 lbs
Awards and Accomplishments:
Will represent Toronto at MLB All-Star Futures Game
2011 – Florida State League mid and post season All-Star
2010 – Midwest League mid-season All-Star
17th on 2011 Top 50 prospects list
We didn’t finish the 2012 Top 50 prospects list!
2012 Statistics and Analysis
105AB, .257/.295/.371 (.666 OPS), 4 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 2 SB, 14/5 BB/K
Video (via MLB Prospect Portal)
Watching the above video dovetails with the various scouting reports I’ve read on A.J. He maintains a very wide base, with only a quick heel tap, allowing him to get his front foot down early and see the pitch as long as possible. He has very quiet hands and his swing is compact and solid, generating line drive gap power. As his minor league stats suggest, he’ll hit his fair share of doubles, but he doesn’t really possess a home run swing.
He’s a contact hitter. As he’s progressed through the minor leagues, both is walk and strike out rates have decreased which suggests he has a decent eye and good plate coverage. One of the things he’ll need to work on going forward is reigning in any natural instinct to make contact with pitches that are out of the zone, as better quality pitchers will exploit that tendency.
I got a quick report from colleague Jays from Away who saw the Fisher Cats this past weekend. He was impressed with Jimenez’ ability to grind out at bats. Often taking the pitcher deep into counts, which suggests he is maturing at the plate.
One thing he could do now to help that progression is keep his hand behind the ball longer and utilize his lower half more effectively. This will help him lay off pitches he previously couldn’t help but take a poke at.
Reading the experts, although Jimenez may be not a star hitter in the major leagues, his bat will play at that level. What should make him an average to above-average everyday mlb catcher is his defensive prowess. Especially his arm. This is where I stray a bit from my pledge not to look at the 2013 season thus far. But, with Jimenez undergoing tommy john surgery last year, cutting his season short in mid-May, it’s worth questioning whether the elite arm has lost a step.
Prior to undergoing the knife, A.J. was throwing out potential base-stealers at a 55% clip. So far this year, post surgery, and we’re subject to a small sample size, he has thrown out four of six runners. I’m not certain how to check for pick offs but he has nine assists thus far so am guessing he has a few.
As a receiver, Jimenez, again, rates as above average. Despite his size, he is quick and agile behind the dish and presents a quality target for his pitchers. I have read that he can get lazy at times, but hopefully this can be ironed out as he progresses further in the system.
2013 Outlook, Risk, and ETA
As mentioned above, tommy john cut short his 2012 season, making it inevitable Jimenez would at least start his 2013 season in New Hampshire. After the off-season the Jays had, A.J. went from blocked to top catching prospect in a hurry. With the season being had by the current major league catchers some people have even started talking about the Puerto Rican being up with the big squad sooner rather than later.
While I don’t think his arrival in Toronto is imminent, I did think he would make his way to Buffalo at some point this season, provided his recovery went well. With the recent signing of Dodgers reject Ramon Martinez to play in Buffalo, I’m now not so sure. He is still only twenty-three so the Jays may think he is best served recovering, gaining some confidence, etc. with the Fisher Cats before becoming the Bisons full-time catcher in 2014.
The risk is simply if whether A.J. will be able to hit major league pitching. Even if he doesn’t however, his bat can’t be much worse than what is currently on display in Toronto and his superior defensive skills will make him a better option behind the dish. Based on my timeline above, after a full season in triple A, Jimenez will be the Jays starting catcher in 2015.
Name 2013 Team