MWAH 2014 Angels Prospects Countdown #12: Luis Jimenez

Lucho got his libre this season, for a little bit anyway. The fans called for it and finally got their wish when Luis Jimenez finally got his call up in 2013.

Luis Jimenez
Position: 3B    Highest Level: Majors
Bats: R    Throws: R    Height: 6'1"    Weight: 205
Age: 26    Born: 1/18/1988
2013 Rank: 7

2013 Season Stats
AZL: 13 PA, .462 AVG, .462 OBP, .692 SLG, 0 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 SO, 0 SB, 0 CS, .500 BABIP, .531 wOBA, 217 wRC+
Triple-A: 218 PA, .284 AVG, .326 OBP, .411 SLG, 9 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 42 RBI, 26 SO, 11 SB, 3 CS, .301 BABIP, .324 wOBA, 89 wRC+
Majors: 110 PA, .260 AVG, .291 OBP, .317 SLG, 6 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 28 SO, 0 SB, 2 CS, .351 BABIP, .271 wOBA, 71 wRC+


= B
Though he faced Major League pitching for the first time and was undoubtedly exposed for his free-swinging ways, Jimenez did show the ability to make contact on a relatively consistent basis.

Power = B
This one is another relative grade.  For a corner infielder, Jimenez likely would grade out as a “D” in this category, but when you compare him to middle infielders, outfielders and catchers, he’s actually above average in this department.  The Angels never really allowed him to get into the groove he needs to be in, but when he was getting everyday at bats Jimenez showed not only the ability to make contact but was well adept and lining balls into the gaps.  His strength doesn’t show up as over-the-fence type of power, but if he were ever fortunate enough to find himself playing 150 games a year at the major league level, Lucho could probably hit 30-40 doubles.

Discipline = F
Getting an “F” grade in any category on this board makes it hard to be a successful major leaguer.  Yet Jimenez, who is now 26 years old, has never developed the ability to take a walk at any level.  In the minors he’d rarely chase, but also has a large zone where he can make contact and hit the ball given his hand-eye coordination.  Major League pitchers however were able to find spots where Jimenez’s bat couldn’t reach.  Basically, the only way Lucho reaches base is if he hits the ball, which works out alright for him given that he’s good at hitting the ball.

Speed = C+
Another relative grade.  For a corner infielder, Jimenez is quite fast.  Overall, when compared to middle infielders, outfielders and catchers, he’s really just a bit above average.

= B
Lucho has the arm to play 3B at the major league level.  There isn’t a throw on the diamond that he cannot make.

Fielding = A
As is turned out, switching from an infielder’s mitt to an outfielder’s mitt at the request of Alfredo Griffin has made a world of difference for Lucho.  He showed to have a far above average glove even at the major league level.  In fact, during his stints in the majors, it was quite clear that Jimenez is a well above-average defender at the top level.  Elite even, which surprised a few given previous reports.

Range = A
Jimenez’s first step is decent and he’s as good as any corner infielder in the game when he leaves his feet.  His range and instincts at third base remind you a lot of middle infielder but with more polish because of his experience at the position. Speaking of which, not that this means anything, but toward the end of the year the Angels had Jimenez logging some innings at shortstop and first base in AAA.  They could be preparing him for a potential utility infielder role.


= B
Lucho never truly got a fair shake with the Angels but that’s the nature of the game.  When he was first promoted, he came in on fire and really produced.  But as soon as Callaspo got healthy they sent Jimenez back to the bench where he lost his timing.  From then on he struggled to regain it either at the top level or in AAA.  This makes the fact that he managed to hit .260 in the majors all the more impressive.

Projection = C
Jimenez is just one of those players you’ll have to deal with if he’s a starter in the majors.  He isn’t a perfect player but has enough upside to outweigh the downside.  He’ll be a “plus” defensive third baseman at the majors, but teams tend to use utility infielders for that role and despite logging some innings at SS and 1B, Jimenez has a way to go before competing in that capacity.  As a hitter, he has the ability to hit for some average and quite a few doubles and stolen bases.  But he won’t give you many HR’s and his OBP will be low.  He should be above replacement level and if that’s the sort of player you can handle starting then there’s no reason to hold Lucho back.  But for now, the Angels need more than that, which is why they went out and got David Freese.  But when Freese’s contract is up in two years, we’ll find out if Kaleb Cowart is ready to go.  If he’s not, the Angels shouldn’t fear turning to Jimenez as their starting 3B as long as they aren’t expecting the world.  I would also be remiss if I did not mention the intangibles Luis possesses.  He’s a natural leader on and off the field, always gives it his all and is a great clubhouse presence.

Grade as a Prospect = B-
He’s 100% for sure a major league caliber third baseman.  He won’t be an all-star, he may not even be average, but without a shadow of a doubt we can say he’s a major leaguer.  If nothing else, that makes him an above average prospect.  As long as you aren’t looking for a future Hall of Famer and are fine with getting by at a cheap price and relatively decent production, Jimenez should be well received.

Estimated MLB Arrival Date = Now
Jimenez will likely spend much of 2014 in AAA given Freese’s presence.  But if he needs any downtime, there should be an interesting battle going on between Grant Green and Luis Jimenez for third base.


2013 in Review*
Luis Jimenez was a prospect that had generated a bit of a cult following coming into the season. Though he wasn't heralded for his tools, he was one of those guys that just performed at every single level. He certainly had flaws in his game, but given the state of third base for the Halos, it seemed like giving Lucho a look was at least worth it. Well, Lucho got his look.

After a very hot start, all the flaws that Jimenez's doubters had harped on were wholly exposed. Jimenez seldom ever walked in the minors, but he was able to get away with it, because he was so good at making contact. Even during his time in Triple-A this season, he whiffed a just 11.9% of the time. However, in the majors, his aggressive approach was easily exploited. In 110 plate appearances, Luis went down swinging 28 times, which is a 25.5% strikeout rate. He also walked all of twice.

What's worse is that even during the first few weeks of his debut when he hit for a high average, it was almost all singles. Jimenez displayed modest power throughout the minors, but he just couldn't drive the ball at all in the majors which is how he ended up with a pathetic .058 ISO. There is more power in his bat than that, but, once again, this is where big league pitchers were able to exploit Lucho, getting him to swing and make weak contact against pitches he didn't have a prayer at driving.

His debut wasn't a complete loss though. One thing that Jimenez did prove is that his glove will more than play in the majors. In his brief time, Jimenez made a number of highlight reel plays and showed himself to be quite smooth in the field. Watching him, it is almost hard to believe that there was once a time where his ability to field the position at an acceptable level was actually in question. Though it was a very small sample size, Jimenez fielded well enough to post a +4 Defensive Runs Saved and 30.6 UZR/150. That's pretty dang good.

Unfortunately for Jimenez, he never got much of a chance to show that he could make the necessary adjustments to be a passable hitter in the majors. Not only did Jimenez miss nearly two months of the year after returning to Salt Lake, but he managed to reinjure himself shortly after getting recalled to the majors in September. Maybe he could've worked on some things, but he just never got that opportunity in the minors or majors.

Looking Ahead*
With David Freese now entrenched at third base, Jimenez is destined to spend the year in the minors. He'll at least get a nominal chance to compete for a bench spot in spring training, but it is doubtful the Angels will carry him. Right now, he doesn't hit well enough to be an offensive weapon off the bench and lacks the upside of a guy like Grant Green. While he is a good defender with solid speed, Jimenez is at a disadvantage in that he really only plays third base while the guys he is competing against all play multiple positions.

While in Salt Lake, Jimenez will have to work on driving the ball. Not only did he hit for no power in the majors in 2013, his Triple-A ISO curiously dipped down to just .127, which is even worse than it looks when you consider the environment. Nobody is asking him to be a slugger, but he has to have a bit of power for his bat to play at third base in the majors, especially since he just is never going to be a high OBP guy.

Personally, I'd also like to see the Angels convert Jimenez into a utility guy. He has a good arm, soft hands and moves well in the field, so it isn't a stretch to think that he can't spend some time at second base. He won't have to be starter-caliber over there so much as good enough for spot duty. Similarly, he could also work at first base and maybe even the outfield. Lucho is probably never going to be an everyday player in the majors, so the Halos would be doing him a favor by allowing him to transform into a utilityman.

*As we do every year, the scouting reports and grades are provided by Scotty Allen while Garrett Wilson provides the 2013 in Review and Looking Ahead sections.

Scott Allen

About Scott Allen

Scott is a writer for The Outside Corner and writer/prospect expert at Monkey With A Halo can be followed on Twitter @ScottyA_MWAH