2015 Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospects: #20 A.J. Jimenez
It’s that time of year, where the team here at Jays Journal once again discusses the Top 20 prospects in the Toronto Blue Jays system. This year, we took sort of a mixed approach to our rankings. Not only did we take a ranking from each member of our writing staff, but we also figured in the rankings from other publications as well, including MLB.com, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and Minor League Ball.
Basically speaking, we wanted to create the most all-inclusive Blue Jays prospect ranking out there.
So with the introduction out of the way, let’s get the ball rolling on the 2015 Jays Journal Top 20 Prospects list! You’ll notice that the number 20 prospect is a familiar face to many of us, albeit ranked quite a bit lower than a season ago.
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Name: A.J. Jimenez
Date of Birth: 5/1/1990 (24)
Acquired: 9th round of 2011 draft
High School: Academia Discipulos de Cristo (Bayamon, PR)
Height/Weight: 6’0″/210 lbs
Awards and Accomplishments:
- Previously ranked #12 on 2013 Jays Journal Top Prospects
- Named to 2013 Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game
- 2011 Florida State League All-Star
- 2010 Midwest League All-Star
Stats and Analysis:
After having Tommy John surgery in 2012 and struggling with elbow irritation as a result of the surgery through much of 2013, the Toronto Blue Jays were looking forward to a bounce back campaign from A.J. Jimenez in 2014. Unfortunately, the team’s top catching prospect entering the season took a big parallel step in production and health, and may have taken a big step backwards in terms of the depth chart.
Jimenez struggled once again with staying on the field, playing in just 83 total games in 2014, as various injuries caught up to him throughout the season. That lack of consistent playing time took its toll on Jimenez’s timing at the plate as well, as he suffered through a tough offensive season. Ultimately, he hit an underwhelming .249/.289/.351 with a .102 ISO.
Defensively, Jimenez continued to shine. After a slow start at Double-A New Hampshire, where he caught just 17% of would-be base-stealers in the Eastern League, his strong arm caught back up to him with a promotion to Triple-A Buffalo. With the Bisons, Jimenez nabbed 14 of 33 attempted base-stealers (42%) and watched his Range Factor jump nearly a full point from 6.67 to 7.60. That said, it should be noted that the overall RF/G of 7.29 that Jimenez posted in 2014 was his lowest since making the full-time conversion to catching.
Outlook and ETA
A lot like Michael Wray’s look at Jimenez last season, his outlook remains cloudy at best. Just a step below the Majors, there doesn’t appear to be a plan in place to have the backstop make the next step any time soon. Additionally, the team has made a few moves over the course of the last two seasons that indicate that Jimenez’s tag as the “catcher of the future” is no longer his to claim.
With a five-year deal to bring Russell Martin to Toronto, and with both Dioner Navarro and Josh Thole currently on the active roster, the road is certainly blocked in terms of Jimenez making the jump to the Majors in 2015. Unless an injury were to strike and one of Navarro or Thole are dealt, then it appears likely that Jimenez will be back at Triple-A until at least September.
However, that may not be the worst thing ever for A.J. Jimenez either. With his recent health history, the Blue Jays are going to look for a full season of production out of the 24-year-old before considering him an option next season and beyond. And that’s where it gets really fun, as the Blue Jays drafted uber-prospect Max Pentecost in the first round of the 2014 draft and also have Dan Jansen making strides in the system in the low minors. Needless to say, Jimenez will be pressed to perform in 2015.
At this point in his development, the Blue Jays want to see more from A.J. Jimenez, especially since he now maintains a 40-man roster spot. However the team is willing to could give him a little bit of patience, as they don’t want to repeat their miss on Yan Gomes with Jimenez either.
It’s just hard to imagine that patience extending past the 2015 season, especially with Pentecost expected to move through the system quickly.