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Tigers Prospect Joe Jimenez: The Relevant Irrelevant

Joe Jimenez Rookie Profile

[the_ad id=”567″]Those who read my previous article remember I wrote “MUST HAVE” about Nick Senzel in my prospect list, well, next to Joe Jimenez’s name I wrote “BEAST” and I mean that in the most positive way.

Both his fearlessness and his numbers are simply beastly. Before going into further details why I believe in him so much, it needs to be mentioned that I have the strictest criteria for relievers because of the volatility of the position. Most of the prospects who are relievers are just not worth discussing. Jimenez is basically an exception. He has been since the moment he wasn’t drafted (because he asked for a very high signing bonus) and had to work hard for every inch of an opportunity he received (in order to prove he was worth that signing bonus he wanted). That relentless spirit transformed him from an unknown (irrelevant) pitcher to a relevant prospect and got him where he is right now – on the fast track to the Major Leagues.

Most relievers have great periods and then they let up. Not him. These are his statistics at the end of 2015 and 2016:

  • Joe Jimenez RHP (20) 61K/11BB in 40 games, 1.47 ERA, .153 avg against, 0.79 WHIP, 17 saves, 2 HR allowed all season (2015)
  • Joe Jimenez RHP (21) 78K/17BB in 54 IP, 1.51 ERA, .144 avg against, 0.80 WHIP, 30 saves through 3 levels and only 1 HR allowed all season (2016)



Simply amazing numbers! He’s the #5 prospect in the Tigers system now, but he wasn’t even on the radar when I first noticed he might be different. I kept waiting for him to fail, to have at least a couple of bad performances in a row, like most relievers do. When that didn’t happen in 2015 I thought: ‘This guy is good!’. When he did the same in 2016, and through 3 levels, I thought: ‘This guy is special’. Then I did some research and realized he might truly be special. He’s got that demeanor, that killer instinct, which if harnessed properly could strike fear in opponents facing him.

There’s a lot of excitement in the Tigers organization for this kid. At the young age of 22, he’s already very mature and unlike the previous Tigers’ hyped up reliever Bruce Rondon, Jimenez does not simply throw, but pitches. He knows how to locate his offerings and despite a two-year long dominance in the minors, he still works on improving them. His fastball, which he locates very good, averages 95-98 mph and is his best pitch. His second best pitch is a very promising slider, plus he is working on developing a change up. He also practices motions and pitching techniques when dealing with runners on base, something atypical for relievers.

On February 27 he had his first appearance for the Detroit Tigers during spring training and showed exactly what he is all about. He walked the first batter he faced, then allowed an RBI triple and hit a batter. It almost felt like he wanted to show everyone what he can do by putting himself into a hole. Then he struck out the next three batters and the game was over. He had one more appearance after that in which he struck out the side. That says it all. A true warrior on the mound, he is ready and waiting to show the world what he’s got.

After getting his feet wet in spring training he joined Puerto Rico for the World Baseball Classic. He had 4 appearances there for a total of 3.1 innings, allowing a hit in each of them without allowing any runs.

Expectedly, he did not make the Tigers opening day roster, but barring an injury, it’s just a matter of time before he gets called up. It’s probably for the best anyway. He’ll get some extra practice in AAA and will keep refining the nuances of his game.

It’s already a well-known fact that investing in relievers in fantasy is not recommended and simply not worth it. However, saves is a category that can be the difference between winning a championship and not, especially in match-ups between fairly even teams in H2H leagues. Therefore, snatching those waiver-wire closers becomes very important during fantasy playoffs, when those same irrelevant relievers you didn’t want to waste a pick on suddenly become relevant. That’s where I think Jimenez comes into play.





K-Rod is less and less reliable and his late-career revival looks to be reaching the end of the road. I see it as highly likely that he won’t be the Tigers closer at the end of the season. Joe Jimenez would be the perfect substitute for a team in desperate need for a good closer for quite some time now. He should bring some stability at the end of games for his team, as well as for yours. I’m not saying you should draft him or keep him on your team. He’s probably going to be more valuable in real life than in fantasy. All I’m saying is keep an eye on him in case you need saves, especially during the second part of the season.

What I think will make the Puerto Rican great is that because he went undrafted he plays not with a chip, but with a boulder on his shoulders. And just ask anyone who wasn’t drafted how powerful of a motivation that is. Combine it with his work ethic, innate savvy and electric stuff and you have yourself as sure of a relieving prospect as there can be. Yes, he’ll probably hit a few bumps on the road. Yes, he’ll likely go through adjustment periods. Yes, he will have to survive the usual learning curve. Yet, if a few more stars line up (my instinct says they will), his success will be inevitable. No, he is not going to be Mariano Rivera, but he should become a reliable closer, and those are not easy to find.

  1. Ryne Milkins says

    I wrote about Jimenez in my sleeper closers article. I don’t think it’s out of the question to see Jimenez in the majors this season. Honestly, I wouldn’t even say it’s out of the question to see him CLOSING games this season. Sure it’s a long shot, but the guy is a star in the making. If he’s not on everyone’s radars yet, he should be. Great write up on a great player.

    1. Milan Gjorgjevikj says

      Ryne, thanks. I just read your article. Exactly how I feel about Jimenez. I also think he’ll be up before long, very likely this season. I think it’s a long shot for those who don’t know about him, but for me and you it’s probably very likely. And that was mostly the purpose of this article, to get him on on people’s radars. A hidden jewel if ever there was one.

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