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Prospect of the Day: Luis Jimenez, 3B, Los Angeles Angels

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Luis Jimenez
Luis Jimenez

The Los Angeles Angels promoted third baseman Luis Jimenez to the major leagues a few days ago. So far he's performed quite well with a 5-for-12 line in his first four games. Jimenez is an interesting case for Prospect of the Day. He did not receive much pre-season hype, but Angel watchers have been tracking him for several years, and there are things to like in his profile.

Jimenez was originally signed out of the Dominican Republic back in 2005. He's made slow but steady progress through the farm system. A free swinger, he seldom draws walks (just 19 last year in 122 games in Triple-A), but he also keeps his strikeout rates reasonable; he's never whiffed more than 72 times in a season.

His offensive production, while not spectacular, has been consistently better-than-average at every level: his last four wRC+ marks are 117, 113, 115, and 109. Not earth-shattering, but he's been consistent and persistent as he's moved up the ladder. In the minor leagues he is a career .303/.339/.518 hitter, including .313/.339/.499 in Triple-A.

He has played in friendly park and league environments and I think that generates some understandable skepticism, but having seen him in person several times, I don't think his numbers are all park/league illusions. He can get into a "pull everything" phase and struggle with pitches on the outer half, but he does have very good bat speed, will crush mistakes, and makes hard contact even on pitches that he should probably let go.

Most scouting reports give his glovework mixed-to-negative reviews, but I'm not sure why. He's not a Gold Glove, but when I've seen him in person, he isn't incompetent by any means. I see a guy with a decent throwing arm who makes all the routine plays, avoids mistakes, and can show surprisingly quick reactions. The numbers back that up, too: his range factors are good and improving each year, and his error rates have come down. I think his defense is underrated.

In my book this year, I wrote this about Jimenez: I can't shake the feeling that something will click when he's 26 or 27, he'll take his game to the next level, and emerge as one of those surprise older prospects who "comes out of nowhere" and suddenly makes noise in the majors. Grade C+.

I still believe that. Keep an eye on this one.