The Tigers inked right-hander Joe Jimenez as an undrafted free agent out of Puerto Rico a couple of years ago. Jimenez’s representatives had floated a very aggressive bonus demand that scared teams away; so much so that he fell completely off the radar and wasn’t selected, despite having the talent to be worth a draft pick in the first few rounds of the draft.
The Tigers were able to sign the youngster, and in the 2014 season, made the move to convert him to relief full-time, where he shined with a 2.70 ERA in 23 appearances, striking out 41 and walking just six for the Connecticut Tigers. He did that at just 19 years of age.
While he impressed in Connecticut, working in relief meant his inning totals were somewhat low (less than 30 innings for the season), so he’s continued to put in work this off-season the Gigantes de Carolina in the Liga de Beisbol Profesional Robert Clemente.
Jimenez, who ranks 17th in the TigsTown Top 50, has been lights out for the Gigantes over the past couple of months.
In 12 appearances (spanning 12 2/3 innings), Jimenez has yet to allow a single earned run, and has allowed just three hits in total, good for .081 average against. He’s also walked one batter, while striking out 15.
The Puerto Rican winter league is not known for its top-flight level of competition, so Jimenez’s performance definitely needs to be taken with the appropriate amount of context. However, after a very successful year of relief in Connecticut, and an extension of that this off-season in Puerto Rico, it’s yet another encouraging sign for the young righty.
Expect to see more on Jimenez as the off-season progresses, both with a complete scouting report when his turn comes up in the TigsTown Top 50 scouting report series, along with complete reports on how his winter ball season wraps up, and how he looks when he arrives in Lakeland for spring training in a couple months.