Kelvin Jimenez is a 26-year old, a tall and slender (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) native of the Dominican Republic. He was signed to his first professional contract by the Texas Rangers in May, 2000 and became a six-year minor league free agent this fall. In 2002, he aged two years as part of a crack-down instituted by MLB.
Jimenez steadily moved up the ranks each year, reaching Triple-A in 2005 and repeating the level in 2006. He was converted from being a swingman to exclusively a reliever about that time. (At their lower levels, the Rangers moved pitchers from starting to relieving in alternating outings in an attempt to build experience.)
The right-hander is said to possess a 91-95 MPH fastball along with a plus hard slider and changeup that is his weakest pitch. His career record is 28-40, 4.15 with a strikeout to walk ratio that is a tad better than two-to-one, demonstrating decent command.
Jimenez was last listed among the Rangers' top prospects back in 2004, when he was ranked #11 in the system. He has been generally considered to be a possible set-up man if he can make it to the majors at all.
Jimenez did not pitch the remainder of the 2006 season after a late July elbow injury.
Demonstrating again that you can never have too many catchers, 26-year old Danilo Sanchez will be joining the Cardinals organization for 2007. He first signed as a free agent with the Detroit Tigers in the fall of 1997. Sanchez remained with the Tigers' Dominican Summer League Club for three seasons, making his first American appearance in 2001.
He controls the strike zone well, having improved his on base percentage in each of the past three seasons prior to 2006. Sanchez has very good hand-eye coordination and as a result, rarely strikes out. His power had finally started to come alive as his .524 slugging percentage and 22 home runs in A-Advanced in 2005 indicated.
Sanchez reached Double-A for the first time in 2006, his ninth season in the Detroit organization, and struggled. He batted .181 with seven home runs and 24 RBI in 237 at-bats for Erie in the Eastern League. Overall, his career line is .250/.353/.430.
The 5-foot-11, 215 pound backstop's claim to fame is his defense, said to have been the best at his position in the entire Tigers' system as recently as earlier this year. His arm strength is especially noteworthy.
Sanchez made a token appearance this winter with the Escogido Lions of the Domincan Winter League, going 2-for-8 with a double, an RBI, five strikeouts and four walks.
A Cardinals spokesman said that of the two, Jimenez has the best chance to remain at Memphis (Triple-A), while Sanchez may more likely start out the 2007 season in Springfield (Double-A).
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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