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Luis Jimenez: Top Angels Prospect #8

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8) Luis Jimenez, 01/18/1988 -- 3B, AA

.284/.332/.480 with 20 HR and 15 SB. +11 run bat, +6 run glove, 3.1 WAR

Ranking in a Nutshell: "Lucho" has the skills to help an MLB club soon - he racks up doubles and some homeruns, doesn't K much, plays great defense, and contributes in all of the little ways - making him a better prospect than he gets credit for nationally (except for here, interestingly). However, he doesn't currently project to hit in the middle of a major league line-up, and his strengths aren't a great fit for the current Angels' roster. The Halos need OBP. Lots and lots of OBP, especially from the left side. Adding Lucho's righty contact bat, especially if it's at the expense of current 3B Callaspo, would just exacerbate the Angels' lack of balance in the lineup, which dings his present value to the club.

Track Record: Jimenez won back-to-back homerun titles as a 19 and 20 year old in the Dominican Summer League and the Pioneer League, which, combined with his low strikeout rate, made him an exciting prospect entering 2009. Sadly, what appeared to be a minor injury at the conclusion of Orem's 2008 title run turned into a full blown labrum tear, sidelining Lucho for the 2010 season and temporarily removing him from the prospect map. When he returned to the field in 2011, he was mostly the same player, but his power tool didn't play quite as well in full season ball, and he continued to show his customary lack of patience at the plate. The issues are linked: Lucho believes he can hit anything, and he does in fact put the bat on most anything, except he can't go yard while leaning out on his front foot to hit a ball a foot outside. You can go here for a thorough breakdown of his hitting skills, including footage.

Jimenez turns 24 today (Happy Birthday Lucho!), so he still has time to improve his plate discipline. Even a marginal bump there could increase his value considerably. The tricky thing is that he'll spend 2012 in Salt Lake, and as a contact-oriented, flyball hitter, he's likely to see his numbers inflated big time by his home park. So what would real improvement look like in Utah? We faced the same question with Mark Trumbo entering what turned out to be his breakout age 24 season in Salt Lake. As it turned out, a 10% walk rate and 36 dingers constituted legitimate growth in skills for the big man. I think it's going to take similarly crazy numbers for Lucho to force his way into the Halos' near term plans. Let's say, a .325/.385/.595 line or so, which has a major league equivalent ("MLE ") of about .265/.310/.465 according to this MLE calculator. Simply put, we need to see video game numbers to get excited.

Win the Lottery Season: Lucho's contributions could total 3-4 WAR a season for the right team, and while he won't anchor a major league line-up, he would slot in nicely as a six or seven hitter behind some lefty mashers on a championship-caliber club. I know this sounds obvious, but a hitters' park would really suit Jimenez' skill set: he bashes flyballs at a significantly higher rate than most players, but without elite power. Anaheim's marine layer may very well swallow those up, turning Jimenez into the second coming of Vernon Wells, but a park like Cincinnati, Arizona, Philadelphia, Boston, Arlington or the Southside of Chicago would potentially leverage his contributions, in much the same way Adrian Beltre's home parks have boosted his production since he left Seattle. It will certainly be fun to watch him in Salt Lake this season, and he could become compelling trade bait before the season is out.