The MWAH prospect countdown marches on with a third baseman who deserves a shot in the majors but probably won't get one, at least not with the Angels.
Position: 3B Highest Level: Triple-A
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6'1" Weight: 205 lbs.
Age: 25 Born: 1/18/88
2012 Season Stats
Triple-A: 517 PA, .309 AVG, .334 OBP, .495 SLG, 38 2B, 2 3B, 16 HR, 85 RBI, 70 SO, 17 SB, 7 CS, .331 BABIP
Contact – A. As they say, no player walks off the island. Luis Jimenez is a free swinging hitter, in much the same way Vlad Guerrero was. And thankfully for Jimenez and the Angels, Lucho has terrific hand-eye coordination and makes consistent contact. He’s a hard player to strike out.
Power – B. Jimenez undoubtedly has the best “gap power” of any hitter in the system. It doesn’t hurt that when he turns on the ball it can go a long way. 30+ doubles at 15-20 HR’s on an annual basis shouldn’t be out of the question. For a third baseman, it isn’t prodigious power, but he certainly has some pop.
Discipline – D. In the minors, Jimenez has no problem punishing pitchers that make a mistake. But in the major leagues, without good strike zone judgment or ability to work a walk, Jimenez will find himself working behind in the count and will more than likely be forced to hit pitches he can’t necessarily do anything with.
Speed – B. Lucho has above average speed for a third baseman and slightly above average speed in general. Although he steals around 20 bases a year in the minors, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that number to fall around 10 SB in the majors if he ever finds a full time position.
Arm – B+. Like any good prototypical 3B, Jimenez has a strong, accurate arm. It isn’t as good as fellow 3B prospect Cowart’s, but he has a quick release and enough arm strength to make any throw on the diamond. Make no mistake, Jimenez isn’t a polished defender, but he’s good enough and the arm makes up for any deficiencies.
Performance – B. As usual, Jimenez put up fantastic numbers, he does so every year. However, this season, he did so in AAA, which wasn’t necessarily as impressive as what he did in AA, given the environment. After the season, he managed to hit .260 in the Dominican Winter League and was somewhat of a hero in the Caribbean World Series. “Lucho” has done everything necessary to earn a spot at the major league level.
Projection – C+. Jimenez’s tools don’t jump off the page. Not a perfect defender, no plate discipline, power, but not a lot considering he’s a middle infielder. But I believe Jimenez is going to be one of those players that just battles and eventually earns a starting spot in the majors. I think he can be a passable defender at 3B at the Major League level that hits .250+ with 30+ doubles and 15+ homeruns every year. Not a superstar, but I think he can hold as much value if not more than Alberto Callaspo, who is a capable enough Major League third baseman.
Estimated MLB Arrival Date – 2013
(*As always, the above scouting report is provided by Scotty Allen of LA Angels Insider)
Season Summary: Jimenez did just about everything that could possibly be asked of him in 2013, only he didn't really get asked to do as much as one would've expected. Lucho put up strong numbers in Salt Lake as he did his usual lots of contact/very little walks act while mixing in a fair amount of power. We obviously have to factor in the hitting environment here, which actually makes his power output a little underwhelming, but there is no doubt that Jimenez can put the bat on the ball. I really can't say enough about the fact that Lucho swings at everything but still only struck out 70 times. To top it all off, Jimenez put together a solid defensive season as well. It was nothing special, but it was good enough to put to bed the notion that he doesn't have a big league glove.
And therein lies the rub. Luis just doesn't do anything well enough to overcome his free-swinging ways, especially under the Dipoto regime. It was a big surprise, to me at least, that Jimenez didn't even get tapped for a September call-up. That was a shock on two levels in that Jimenez seemed more than ready for such a promotion but also that Alberto Callaspo hasn't exactly been knocking people's socks off with his play. If ever there was a position to introduce some competition in Anaheim, it is third base, yet the front office chose to punt instead. If there is a bigger indictment on Lucho's future with the Halos, I don't know what it is.
What to Expect in 2013: In theory, Jimenez will get a chance at competing for a bench spot this spring. He probably won't win it since he isn't left-handed and doesn't play anything other than third. That means it is back to Salt Lake for Lucho where he will undoubtedly put up similarly good numbers and get similarly ignored barring an injury to Callaspo. He'll just bide his time hoping for a chance, but by the time it comes, Kaleb Cowart will be nearly ready enough to leapfrog straight passed him. Such is Lucho's lot in life, or at least in the Angels organization. All he can really do is keep being a good soldier and hope that he either gets a chance in Anaheim or gets the attention of some other organization who will pry him loose to see what he can do even though he doesn't fit the mold of hitters that teams are looking for nowadays.