Birdhouse MiLB 'Reliever of the Month' - June

RHP Kelvin Jimenez has been written off by everyone, so given another chance, he should fit in with the St. Louis Cardinals.

On Saturday May 31, Kelvin Jimenez made his fourth relief appearance of the 2008 season with the big league club and was hammered for six hits, five (earned) runs, one walk, three home runs, and striking out only two. The Dominican was immediately optioned back to Triple-A the next day, June 1, in favor of right-handed reliever Mark Worrell.

Jimenez, a non-roster invitee last spring, had a disappointing 2007 campaign. After being sent down in July with a bloated 10.41 ERA, Jimenez righted the ship when he was recalled in September, with two wins and a 3.14 ERA in 11 appearances, so there was hope that he could contribute in 2008.

He was given a chance the major league club in spring training, making a team high 10 appearances for the Cardinals before being assigned to Memphis.

He got his first call to St. Louis on April 5, to replace Russ Springer who was placed on the 15-Day DL, only to be sent back to Memphis, eight days later after giving up one run in three innings.

The St. Louis Cardinals recalled Jimenez from Triple-A Memphis to take Joel Pineiro's place on the active roster on May 28. Pineiro was sidelined by a strained groin and placed on the 15-Day DL in a corresponding move.

Three days later Jimenez would make that fateful relief appearance, giving up five earned runs on six hits, including three home runs in just 3.1 innings pitched against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The following day the Cardinals optioned Jimenez back to Memphis. Five days later (June 6), the St. Louis Cardinals would rescind his option and place him on the 15-day disabled list due to a bruised hand he sustained in his last major league appearance. Jimenez made his first rehab appearance on June 16, pitching one inning of relief allowing one hit and no runs. He made eight pitches, six for strikes, getting three ground outs.

Officially optioned to Memphis after his rehab appearance, Jimenez appeared in six more games for the Redbirds in June, without giving up any runs. He finished the month with a record of 0-0, 0.00 ERA with four saves in 7.1 innings pitched, giving up only four hits, while striking out two without walking anyone in June.

After an embarrassing performance and a second demotion to the minors this season at the end of May, Jimenez is demonstrating he has the heart of a champion with an impressive body of work in June. His selection as the Minor League Reliever for the Month of June will likely cause a stir among the bloggers throughout Cardinal Nation, because he has basically been written off by everyone, as someone who can pitch effectively, even dominate in the minors only to implode when toeing the mound in a major league ballpark.

I know according to the experts, pundits and prolific bloggers, Jimenez is not given much of a chance to return to St. Louis and be effective, meaning he should fit right in with the Cardinals a ballclub that knows what it means to be written off.

Kelvin Jimenez, the Birdhouse 'Minor League Reliever of the Month' for June, 2008.

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