Who Is A.J. Jimenez?

ajjimenez

If you read this week’s Griff Bag post, you have noticed I tried to be maybe a little more hopeful than in weeks past about J.P. Arencibia and his future here in Toronto. Or… well… yeah, a little.

About his closest competition in the minors I wrote:

A.J. Jimenez is back in Double-A after missing most of last year with Tommy John surgery, and he has some promise– a defence-first guy with not much pop but a decent hit tool, from what I’ve been led to believe– but even though he’s getting closer, don’t expect him to displace Arencibia to start 2014 or anything.

I still think that’s pretty accurate, but… um… about Jimenez…

Microscopic sample size alert, of course. And this is, let’s net forget, a guy with just 35 games above A-ball, and who put up an OPS of just .666 in 27 games last year. Aaaaand he’s walked just 65 times 1247 minor league plate appearances. But he’s also not Jim Negrych, either.

Larry Millson wrote about Jimenez for Baseball America in April of 2012, and got some glowing reviews– y’know, as you’d expect from guys within the organization… but still!

Lefthanded reliever Evan Crawford, who opened the season in the New Hampshire bullpen, raves about his defense.

“He’s fantastic, he’s one of the most athletic people I’ve ever met in my life,” Crawford said. “Being behind the dish, it’s pretty special to be as athletic and as quick as he is. I’ve seen him make some throws this year that’ll blow anybody out of the water.

“Also, he calls a great game. He’s a smart kid back there. He’s going to be something special. He’s quick, he’s athletic. You feel comfortable throwing it anywhere when he’s back there.”

ScoutingBook.com had this to say about him, in a bio updated this winter:

A squat, powerful catcher in the Jays organization, Antonio (AJ) Jimenez zipped onto a lot of short lists last season when he raked a .303/.353/.417 line in his first full season of high-A baseball. That performance at Dunedin came with four homers and eleven stolen bases, too, demonstrating that he can be a pretty well-rounded (not a weight joke) position player, too. His swing is short and powerful and shows room for future power, and since he’s already showing a great batting eye and good plate discipline, there’s no reason to think he can’t be a quality offensive player at the MLB level in another couple of years.

Meanwhile, following a 5-for-6 with two doubles and five runs scored at New Hampshire on June 16th, Zach Mortimer of Baseball Prospectus put it pretty succinctly:

Excellent defensive catcher; some question how much he will ultimately hit, but he is a future big leaguer.

Back in December– after the Marlins trade but prior to the Dickey deal– Marc Hulet ranked Jimenez as the eighth-best Jays prospect for FanGraphs, saying similarly that he “has a chance to be an everyday big league backstop.” He adds, however:

I watched Jimenez play shortly before his injury and he was utilizing a wide, well-balanced stance at the plate. His approach was clearly designed to generate line drives, rather than over-the-fence power and he was relying heavily on his hands. He was stabbing a bit at the ball and needed to stay back more. Known as a very good defensive catcher – with a strong, accurate arm – Jimenez was a little lazy with his receiving in this game. With no runners on base, he was setting up very late and didn’t give a target with his glove; he allowed the pocket of his glove to point down to the ground, rather than out to the pitcher as a target. On the plus side, he was very quiet behind the plate and gave the umpire a great look at the ball.

So… there are definitely some major questions. And the site I won’t link to that was throwing around the name Yadier Molina is clearly laying it on thicker than blackstrap molasses. Aaaand it’s far too early to get that excited about a guy who has put up an OPS of 1.123 across two levels this season, given that we’re still only talking about 17 games, and that he currently sports a batting average higher than his on-base.

But with Jimenez having a chance to move up to Triple-A later this summer, and continuing to hit well against more advanced pitching– at least so far– perhaps the Jays’ next catcher of the future is closer than we realize.

I just… y’know… wouldn’t bank on it.

Still, the organization likes him. In a piece from this spring at Baseball America, Millson spoke to the club’s assistant GM, Tony La Cava, who said he think’s Jimenez’s bat is “underrated,” and explained, “We have high hopes for him. We think he’s going to be an everyday catcher in the big leagues.”

“He’s a well above-average defensive catcher that can stop the running game,” LaCava said. “He’s a line-drive, contact bat. He’s hit .300 at a couple of stops. He lost time last season so he’ll go back to Double-A and pick up where he left off.”

Seems like he has. And given Arencibia’s talked-about-ad-nauseam struggles, that’s kinda intriguing…

Comments (77)

  1. I wonder if the Jays will move him up to Buffalo any time soon.

  2. I love him already, call him up and start selling his jerseys!

  3. i’m hoping for lots of content today, i live in calgary and my city is floating away and i need some good jays news

  4. Who Cares?

  5. Age 20

    A.Jimenez (A): 292pa, 6.2bb%, 19.2k%, .362babip, .305/.347/.435/.775, .352woba, 113wRC+
    T.D’Arnaud (A): 540pa, 7.6bb%, 13.9k%, .273babip, .255/.319/.419/.738, .337woba, 109wRC+

    Age 21

    A.Jimenez (A+): 422pa, 6.6bb%, 14.2k%, .348babip, .303/.353/.417/.770, .351woba, 115wRC+
    T.D’Arnaud (A+): 292pa, 6.8bb%, 21.6k%, .312babip, .259/.315/.411/.726, .333woba, 107wRC+

    Age 22

    A.Jimenez (AA): 112pa, 4.5bb%, 11.6k%, .278babip, .260/.297/.375/.672, .304woba, 83wRC+
    T.D’Arnaud (AA): 466pa, 7.1bb%, 21.5k%, .365babip, .311/.371/.542/.914, .403woba, 150wRC+

    Age 23

    A.Jimenez (A+/AA): 65pa, 1.5bb%, 12.3k%, .508babip, .468/.462/.661/1.123, .493woba, 211wRC+
    T.D’Arnaud (AAA): 303pa, 6.3bb%, 19.5k%, .374babip, .333/.380/.595/.975, .415woba, 147wRC+

  6. In other prospect-y news, looks like Sanchez is back on the mound tonight after a shoulder issue.

    I can only assume that Jaime Evans has donned his cape and has flown to FLA to fix the Jays’ top prospect’s shoulder with his magic throwing program (I’m only half joking here).

    • One thing that hasn’t been announced, but I wonder about, is using the weighted ball program on Josh Johnson. Think about it, his velosity is down! Not saying they will, but seems interesting that they hired him. However, so far, seems only relievers used it! Would be amazing, amazing!

      However, hope they let JJ flounder until no other team wants him, then go for it on team-friendly contract1

      • There’ll be LOTS of inquiries at the deadline. Would give anything to know what AA’s thinking.

  7. Re: “Jimenez was a little lazy with his receiving in this game. With no runners on base, he was setting up very late and didn’t give a target with his glove; he allowed the pocket of his glove to point down to the ground, rather than out to the pitcher as a target.”

    Answer…….

    http://thesportshernia.typepad.com/blog/images/2008/03/26/sal_fasano_catching_legend_2.jpg

  8. Yadier Molina!

  9. So his name is Antonio Jimenez and he goes by AJ Jimenez… Shouldn’t he go by A Jimenez, or go the Reinaldo route and just go by one name AJ?

  10. I thought that was Alex Rios for a second

  11. Or is it pronounced “Ay” “Hay” “Himinez”?

  12. another thing to note is that Jimenez is on the 40 man roster so i believe one of his options is being used this year. also – mike nickeas (Buffalo catcher, acquired from Mets in the Dickey trade) is not on the 40 man roster.

    so, in all likelihood, Jimenez will get called up to the Jays once the Minor League Season ends.

    so im not sure they would promote him again… to AAA… given he’s already moved from Dunedin to Manchester and he probably is coming to Toronto in September.

  13. Stoeten, you need to get a hold of today’s mailbag by Griffin; one guy actually thinks Buck and Tabby are the best in baseball when it comes to baseball. Would love to hear (and laugh hysterically) at what you think about it please?

  14. Is he the next chip in a trade for something end of July now? cause from yesterday i recall that Catchers are super easy to come by…..

  15. Unrelated to this article, but Gregg Zaun is on Tim and Sid right now and still believes that the Jays should trade everyone on the team for “winners” and “grinders”. Wow…

    • Sure. But Greg Zaun is kind of a fuck-tard. He knows the game and all, but he tries too hard to be “provocative”.

    • Do yourself a favour and stop listening to the talking heads. They get paid to cause trouble.

      They have one goal only, to riel you up enough so that you stick around to hear the next commercial.

      I cut that fat out of Blue Jay diet this year and even durning the poor play earlier in the season, I’ve enjoyed 2013 more than any other.

      Keep it simple, watch the games, get to the dome when you can, and stop by DJF for the good links, mostly based on fact analysis and comments section.

      Come to your own conclusions, baseball is so much better that way.

  16. Ever notice how the most popular QB in town is always the back-up?

  17. How do you have a batting average higher than your OBP?

  18. The Jays have both JPA and Thole for 3 more cheap years after this season so any other catchers in the system are just bonus. Considering how fast Blanco was picked up, I think the Jays are looking alright at catcher for awhile.

    • Bonus… except for the fact that… y’know… if any of them are actually good they’re an improvement on those two scrubs.

  19. I think a decision will be made on if they’re going to keep either of the big-ticket pitchers….Johnson or Buehrle, in particular. Actually, IF (note the big goddamned giant-sized IF, there) all of their starters get back to a modicum of physical health – or in Romero’s case, a modicum of mental consistency – they might be awash in pitchers.
    It would hurt like hell to give up a Johnson, for example – but if you can get a decent package of almost-ready-for-prime-time youngsters or an Utley-type – would it be worth it?

    • Keep Dickey? You mean the guy under contract for two seasons after this one plus an option?

      • Didn’t mention DIckey by name, did I? I’m talking about the two guys who are going to really kick the Jays in the wallet next season.
        I was asking, hypothetically – if the Jays’ pitchers who are currently on the DL come back to some acceptable level health and can all pitch – I’m talking Happ, Romero, Drabek, Hutch, etc. – do the Jays roll the dice and fish around to see what kind of bounty a guy like Johnson or Buehrle would garner? Would losing a guy like that be acceptable – considering you’ve got a bunch of arms that need places to play…..and if the aforementioned bounty includes an Utley-type (for example) or a threesome of prospects?

        • Or does AA just stash them all in Buffalo and see what’s what?
          Either way…it’s a not-entirely-horrible smorgasbord of options.

  20. Given the reports on his defense and the very limited action I’ve seen from him down in florida, as long as he can hit as well as Jeff Mathis at the MLB level, the Blue Jays have won.

  21. And what of Nessy? Too far off to care about yet?

  22. I’ll take a Benito Santiago, lite…

  23. What’s with the uncalled for door at Negrych?

  24. Fuck arencibia he’s a self absorbed bum and was never billed as the be all end all of catching for the jays. I mean Jesus the mets insisted on a prospect rather then this guy in the dickey trade! What does that tell ya?

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