Minor League Prospect Report: Luis Jimenez, 3B, Los Angeles Angels
He doesn't get much attention outside of Angel fandom, but Luis Jimenez is an interesting prospect who could sneak up on us.
Luis Jimenez is a 6-1, 205 pound right-handed hitter, born January 18, 1988. He was signed by the Los Angeles Angels in 2005, from the Dominican Republic. After two seasons in the Dominican Summer League, Jimenez played for Orem in the Pioneer League in 2008 and was very successful, hitting .331/.361/.630 and leading the league with 15 home runs. Of course, that's the Pioneer League; everybody hits there. I did note "considerable potential" and gave him a Grade C+ in the 2009 book.
After missing all of 2009 with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, Jimenez returned to action in 2010 and continued to hit well, .292/.332/.476 in 43 games for Low-A Cedar Rapids, followed by a .286/.325/.522 line for High-A Rancho Cucamonga in 81 games after being promoted to the California League. Again, I gave him a C+.
Promoted to Double-A Arkansas for 2011, he continued his steady production, with a .290/.335/.486 line including 40 doubles and 18 homers in 490 at-bats. His error rate (previously high) began to come down, and his production didn't slip against better pitching. I moved him up to a Grade B-, writing that I didn't expect him to become a star, but that with further refinement he could be a regular for some teams.
Sent to Triple-A Salt Lake for 2012, he hit .309/.334/.495 with 38 doubles and 16 homers. Overall, in 529 minor league games, Jimenez has hit .302/.338/.518 with 75 homers, 98 walks, and 293 strikeouts in 2075 at-bats.
Despite his solid performances, Jimenez draws mixed reviews from scouts and hasn't received much notice outside of Angels circles. Although not a huge home run hitter, he's got plenty of bat speed, hits lots of doubles (averaging 41 per season over the last three years), and makes contact. I've seen him handle both fastballs and breaking pitches well, and he keeps his strikeout rates low. His main weakness as a hitter is impatience: he's aggressive and seldom draws walks, but even when he lunges at something he usually makes contact.
Sabermetrically, much of his production comes from a high batting average, but his park/league environments have been friendly for hitters, and not everyone believes this will translate well to the majors. At this point we just need to see if it does.
The other issue is defense. Although the labrum injury cost him a little arm strength, he still throws well enough to handle third base. Scouting reports about his glove (like his bat) are mixed. However, when I have seen him in person, he has always done a good job defensively, making accurate throws and showing surprisingly good range. His fielding statistics are now very good; he's lowered his error rate each season while improving his range factors. I think he is an above-average defensive player.
His running speed is average but he has developed into an effective stealer, swiping 32 of 45 bases in the last two years and 79-for-108 over his career. I don't think he would steal a huge number of bases in the majors, but he can take the pitcher by surprise.
Jimenez has a significant weakness with his impatience, and to some extent he reminds me of Josh Vitters with his low-walk/low-strikeout/moderate-power profile. The Vitters comparison may sound like a big negative considering how much the Cubs prospect struggled in the majors, but I don't mean it that way. Vitters got lots of hype because of his draft status, hype that Jimenez has not received even though his skills are similar, indeed better in some ways (defense).
My point is that Jimenez deserves a lot more attention than he gets. He has a good glove and he's hit reasonably well to every level in the minors. Put him on your sleeper lists.