Toronto Blue Jays 2020 Top Prospects: #15 Leonardo Jimenez

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ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 16: Major league baseballs sit in a glove as the Seattle Mariners warm up before the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 16, 2016 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 16: Major league baseballs sit in a glove as the Seattle Mariners warm up before the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 16, 2016 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /
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Jays Journal continues our countdown of the top 30 Blue Jays prospects of 2020. The #15 spot goes to shortstop Leonardo Jimenez.

Name: Leonardo Jimenez
Position: SS/2B                 Age: 18
Height: 5’11”                      Weight: 160 lbs
Throws: Right                     Bats: Right
Acquired: Signed as an International free agent in July 2017
2019 Organization Level: Single-A – Lansing Lugnuts
ETA: 2022

Background
Earning the second highest signing bonus among the Jays 2017 International Prospects at $825k, Leonardo Jimenez comes highly touted by Assistant GM Andrew Tinnish – head of International Operations for the Blue Jays.

While many prospects feature one or two tools in which they excel at, Jimenez features a very strong all-around game – especially defensively. And with the Jays recent focus on maximizing their defensive versatility, Jimenez fits that bill quite nicely. Excelling at two premium positions – SS and 2B – it is believed by some that Jimenez could become one of the best defensive shortstops in the Blue Jays organization, which is no small feat given the depth they have accumulated at the position in recent years.

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Jimenez made his professional debut in 2018 with the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays. As a 17 year old competing against men – the average player in the league is around 20 years old – Jimenez held his own slashing .250/.333/.341 over 37 games. Jimenez played his 2019 season as a member of the Bluefield Blue Jays of the Appalachian League, where he saw a significant improvement in all offensive categories slashing .298/.377/.377 over 56 games.

But for all of his strengths, Jimenez has one glaring weakness that limits his ceiling going forward. He doesn’t hit for power. In fact, he has yet to hit a home run in 401 plate appearances as a professional.

Because of that, Jimenez profiles as more of a lead-off type hitter given his ability to hit for a high average, draw his fair share of walks, as well as limiting his strikeouts.

Hitting
According to MLB Pipeline’s Scouting Report, Jimenez has a compact swing that takes a direct route to the ball allowing him to let the ball travel deeper before deciding whether or not to swing. He shows a good feel for spreading the ball all over the diamond making consistent contact as a line-drive hitter.

This line-drive approach earned him a .368 BABIP (96th percentile) in 2019, which when combined with his low strikeout rate (17.1%) led to both a high AVG (.298) and OBP (.377). His lack of power, however, will always limit his offensive upside making him ideally suited for a lead-off role rather than a middle of the order bat.

Pipeline gives Jimenez an average hit grade of 50 and a power grade of 30 (well below average). While not a base stealing threat, having stolen only two bases over the last two seasons, Jimenez possesses slightly above average speed earning a run grade of 55.

Defense
Pipeline gives Jimenez a grade of 55 (slightly above average) for both his fielding and his arm as he is versatile enough to provide solid defense at both shortstop and second base.

According to MLB Pipeline’s Scouting Report:

"“Defensively, Jimenez, an average runner, is a solid defender at both middle-infield positions. He is praised for his instincts, is fundamentally sound and can make all the routine plays. While not explosive in his actions, Jimenez is athletic and earns praise from club officials for his intuitiveness and positioning.”"

Future Value
Jimenez is still very young at only 18 years of age, which makes it more difficult to project his future value compared to prospects who are further along in their development. That being said, there seems to be a solid floor provided by his defensive prowess, on-base ability as well as his defensive versatility.

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At minimum, Jimenez should provide future value to a major league ball club as a utility infielder/bench player who can play both middle infield positions, with the upside potential of being an elite defensive shortstop who can hit for a high average and on-base percentage in a lead-off role.

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