The MWAH prospect countdown marches on with a pitcher that made the jump from the Domincan last season and could make a big jump up the prospect ladder in 2013.
Position: Starting Pitcher Highest Level: High-A
Throws: Left Height: 6'1" Weight: 187 lbs.
Age: 21 Born: 11/27/91
2012 Season Stats
Low-A: 97.1 IP, 7-5, 3.51 ERA, 113 H, 19 BB, 4 HR, 59 SO, 1.15 GO/AO, 3.35 FIP, .354 BABIP
High-A: 19.2 IP, 1-1, 2.75 ERA, 23 H, 1 BB, 2 HR, 14 SO, 1.41 GO/AO, 3.71 FIP, .344 BABIP
Fastball – C+. Jimenez’s fastball sits at 90-91 mph which is average for a left handed pitcher. But it has good sink and generates a lot of ground balls, which is why it grades to very slightly higher than average.
Off-speed Pitches – B-. Jimenez has what I’d consider an “A” grade change up, and a “D+” grade (below average) breaking ball. But it’s the idea that hitters are completely unable to discern between a 90 mph fastball and an 80 mph change-up given the arm speed and angle that makes him such an effective pitcher.
Control – A. “A” grades are reserved for specific abilities which play up among the best of Major Leaguers. Jimenez in his first year in the US sported a pristine 1.5 BB/9, meaning for every 6 inning start, he might walk one batter. For a 20 year old facing higher competition for the first time, that’s amazing.
Command – A. Simply put, Jimenez puts the ball where he wants it, when he wants it there. He knows he’s not going to strike many hitters out, so it is Jimenez’s goal to generate as many weak ground balls and pop ups as possible, which he showed he can do in the low minors.
Mechanics – C+. Personally, I found his mechanics to be smooth, but hated his arm angle and his lack of finish. However, when you look at it, at least he’s using the same arm angle with regularity and his delivery doesn’t require a great deal of effort.
Performance – A-. All he did in his first year in the states is cruise through A -Ball and put up three sparkling starts in Advanced A -Ball. The Angels didn’t bother sending him to Arizona or to Orem for development. They saw a pitcher that was ready to move up and didn’t play it conservatively. How many pitchers can we honestly say outperformed all expectations the minute they touched American soil?
Projection – C. This is where Jimenez’s ranking takes a hit, he’s a soft-tossing lefty that relies on contact. Sure, he made low minors hitters look foolish as a breezed past them. But once he reaches AA and AAA, he’ll see major league quality hitters for the first time that’ll really test his abilities as a pitcher. Since we don’t know what Jimenez will do in those situations, we can’t for sure say he’ll be anything more than a 5th starter or swing starter type. For what it’s worth, I see a lot of Joe Saunders in Eswarlin Jimenez, which means he may be a steady 4th starter in the majors.
Estimated MLB Arrival Date – 2015.
(*As always, the above scouting report is provided by Scotty Allen of LA Angels Insider)
Season Summary: Jimenez was one of the big arms that they brought over from the Domincan Leagues in 2012. He'd dominated in the DSL for a few years, so the Halos finally decided to bring him stateside to see what he could do and he certainly didn't disappoint. Considering that he was just 20 years old, building arm strength and generally learning how to pitch, Jimenez's season was a rousing success.
Were the big impressive numbers there? No, not really, but there was still plenty to get excited about. Eswarlin didn't miss bats like he did the DSL, but he did throw an unfathomable amount of strikes for a pitcher as raw as he is. Given how hittable he was, he probably threw a few too many strikes, but as he learns the difference between pitching to contact and just putting the ball over the plate, he should be just fine. It also wouldn't hurt his numbers if he could get to a level where he is pitching in front of a competent defense. His strikeout numbers should improve in the process as well since he does throw hard enough and possesses two off-speed pitches with potential. The big takeaway from his performance though was that Jimenez has command, he just needs to learn how to use it better.
One minor point of interest is that Jimenez didn't induce the same number of grounders that he did back in the DSL where he appeared to be an extreme groundball pitcher. Again, this could have something to do with Jimenez allowing too much good contact. Still, it merits watching because if he can return to getting grounder at the rate he was before and learns to generate more whiffs, Jimenez could develop into a legitimate frontline starter.
What to Expect in 2013: Jimenez is coming off his first full-length season, so the Angels still have to bring him a long slowly. He should pick up where he left off in the Inland Empire, and if all goes well, jump to Arkansas by the end of the year. While Eswarlin had solid success in his brief taste of the Cal League late last season, he still has to prove that he can survive their. With the California League being such a good hitter's environment, Jimenez won't be able to get away with being so hittable. The question is if he is prepared to make those adjustments or if he is going to have to learn the hard way by getting knocked around for a bit.