Tigers Scouting Report #17: Joe Jimenez

The Tigers got a steal in 2013 when right-hander Joe Jimenez out of Puerto Rico fell completely out of the draft due to bonus demands and a perceived strong college commitment. At 19, Jimenez spent the summer with short-season Connecticut, and consistently blew hitters away. Can this fireball relief prospect emerge as an impact reliever?

Joe Jimenez

Vitals

Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Date of Birth: 1/17/1995 (2015 Opening Day Age: 20)
Height/Weight: 6-2/220
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Acquired: Amateur Free Agent, 2013
Ranking History: #16 (2014), #17 (2015)

Background: Thanks to excellent scouting and a strong relationship with the player, the Tiger inked Jimenez after he went undrafted in the 2013 draft. Despite a college commitment, Jimenez had every intention of turning pro and signed with the Tigers for less than $100,000. The younger brother of Blue Jays catcher A.J. Jimenez, Joe pitched well in his professional debut, posting a 0.50 ERA in 18 innings in the GCL. The Tigers move him to the bullpen permanently in 2014 and he responded with a dominating summer in the NYPL.

Performance:

2014 Stats - Pitching
TEAMGGSSVIPHHRRERBBSOHBPERAWHIPW/L
Connecticut 230426.222110864122.701.053-2


Scouting Report

Body: Thick body; listed weight is kind; lower half is beefy and naturally strong; has room for additional strength in the upper body but won’t fill out much more; body near max; could be high maintenance if not watched closely at physical peak.

Delivery/Mechanics: Stiff and inconsistent; max effort type; every part of delivery varies at times, including pace, leg kick, drive, arm angle, release point; needs to find more fluidity to movement in delivery to allow for increased effectiveness; arm tends to lag behind rest of body and impacts control.

Fastball: Huge arm strength; velocity spiked in shorter stints; comfortable in 94-96 mph range and saw him reach as high as 99-100 on some occasions; 97-98 was routine when he needed a little extra; natural life to pitch, riding arm side; can chew up bats when he’s in the zone; FB is near plus-plus now and has a chance to be an elite-level pitch as everything comes together; dominating offering that will carry his profile. Grade – Present 6+/Future 7

Slider: Finding consistency with offering; at its best, SL works 79-81 mph with two-plane break; saw it flash 77-78 mph with loopier, CB-like break; much better pitch when thrown harder; shows tight spin and potential to be devastating swing-and-miss pitch; needs to find consistency with release; presently just throws it at the zone and will benefit from developing ability to throw for strikes, move out of the zone, and bury on the back foot; potential second plus pitch that allows him to dominate hitters. Grade – 5/6+

Changeup: Early in development; significant velocity separation from FB but that comes with a price at times; typically slows delivery and arm down to allow CH to have velo separation; doesn’t trust grip; when he lets it go, pitch shows some arm-side fade; easily below-average and could develop some; won’t be focus of developmental work in short term; likely to max out as fringe pitch if it remains in arsenal at all. Grade – 3/4

Control/Command: Very much a thrower instead of a pitcher; needs to find mechanical consistency to allow development of control profile; command development is likely a stretch but has potential to throw better strikes with FB and SL; needs to work down with FB more regularly as tendency is to work up ladder at present; plenty of room for growth, though control profile likely tops out in average range.

Other: Very raw; needs to build confidence at lower levels before being pushed quickly through the system; comes out aggressive early but backs down and loses aggressiveness when he starts getting hit; wears emotion on sleeve; can get caught with head down and dejected when things don’t go his way; needs to mature so that confidence and aggressiveness show through more consistently.



Final Word

Summary: Big, power right-hander; easy projection for plus-plus FB and potential for pitch to develop into elite range at peak; SL could be knockout weapon that dominates hitters when combined with FB; SL is potential second plus pitch; CH and control lag behind; CH could be scrapped to focus on two primary offerings; control has potential to come along to average; still just a thrower that needs mechanical refinement to throw better strikes; potential high-impact reliever.

Risk: Extreme risk; Only short-season resume; inherent volatility of relievers in lower minors; everything needs to step forward, including maturity.

Projection: Scheduled to make his full-season debut in 2015, likely with Low-A West Michigan; should dominate Midwest League hitters on FB-SL alone, even without improvement in other areas; could see High-A Lakeland before season’s end; likely 2017 ETA if things continue to go smoothly as he moves up the ladder; potential setup reliever or second division closer.

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