A.J. Jimenez: Top Winter Performer
Many Blue Jay fans celebrated the signing of three-time all-star catcher Russell Martin. This move will have a large impact on the Blue Jays pitching staff. We often forget that there is a trickle down effect when the major league club adds to their.
One player to be affected by the Martin signing was Jays Journal 20th ranked Top Prospect A.J. Jimenez. Over the past few season the Blue Jays farm system has rapidly improved and Jimenez has steadily risen on our top prospect list. The wrong way. He ranked as high as number 8 in 2013. To many fans it might seem as though his star is falling and should no longer be considered a top prospect or part of the Blue Jays future plans, but they’d be wrong.
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A.J. Jimenez shouldn’t be mistaken as a potential all-star catcher, he shouldn’t be expected to win batting titles, or hit home runs in the bunched. No, Jimenez is an impressive athlete, who possess a solid frame, a competitor’s fire, and loves to be on the field. There is always a but, if their wasn’t a but he would be in the majors by now. But, he has had a little issue with staying healthy. He’s been plagued by elbow issues, undergoing Tommy John surgery in May 2012 but he seems have the strength back and can now put it past him.
A.J. spent this past winter playing in Puerto Rico for Cangrejeros de Santurce. While there he used his plus bat speed to challenge for the batting title; ultimately finishing 5th with a .311 batting average. In typical Jimenez fashion, he didn’t hit for power (career .105 ISO), only one home run in 32 GP.
Jimenez used his excellent hand-eye coordination to limit strike outs and walks to 9 each. This typical for Jimenez who doesn’t normally strike out much, career 16.9 K%, nor does he walk much, carer 4.7 BB%. His low BB numbers can explain his OBP (.372) and OPS (.809). With a batting average above .300, one would expect to see a OBP above .400 and an OPS of over 1.000.
What does this mean for his future?
Martin will be the Blue Jays starting catcher for the next 4 years and depending whether Martin is capable of catching RA Dickey, Josh Thole will occupy the role of back up catcher. That leaves A.J. Jimenez plying his trade in Buffalo for another season, which isn’t the end of the world. The book on Jimenez is that he is one of the top defensive catchers not playing the majors. His glove, receiving and framing skills, and ability to block balls in the dirty make him a good choice to back up Martin in 2016.