Prospect rankings are not easy to compile. A lot of work goes into the evaluation of a single minor league player, and weighing the different skills of each person — not to mention comparing pitchers to hitters — makes it even more difficult. Tools, floor, ceiling, and a number of other factors get weighed, often by multiple people, and the result is supposed to give some sort of hierarchy to a team’s minor league system.
However, this is the internet, and people are going to get really hoppin’ mad when something falls out of place. That something happened on Wednesday, when Baseball America released their latest top 10 prospects list for the Detroit Tigers organization. Flamethrowing reliever Joe Jimenez was omitted from the list entirely, and they heard loud and clear from the Tigers fanbase over the next 24 hours.
We take a stab at prospect rankings from time to time here at BYB, but don’t have the resources that the big sites do for keeping tabs on the entire farm system. That said, we have some opinions, man.
This week’s question: Where should Joe Jimenez be in the Tigers’ prospect rankings and why?
Jacob: I would rank Joe Jimenez fifth in the Tigers' organization, slotting in after Matt Manning, Beau Burrows, Christin Stewart, and JaCoby Jones. Manning has a very similar profile to Jimenez as far as raw stuff goes, but is a starter, which gives him a clear edge. Burrows falls under that same category: electric stuff and a starter. Those two have very high ceilings that Jimenez simply can't match. Christin Stewart would be ranked below Jimenez because of his poor defense and likely career as a DH, but relievers are infamously mercurial and Stewart's powerful bat is a relatively steady force in the lineup. I also ranked Jones higher than Jimenez because of his non-zero chance to stick in center, and an athlete of his caliber would be a tremendous addition to the middle of a lineup and a defense. I was temped to put Tyler Alexander or Kyle Funkhouser above Jimenez, simply because of the sheer number of quality innings they could potentially provide, but decided not to because they are more than likely are back end of the rotation arms and a closer of the variety that Jimenez figures to be is superior to a No. 4-type starter.
Kyle: Joe Jimenez has to be considered a top-five prospect for the Tigers because of his projected impact in the majors. While the nature of prospects is uncertainty, few players in the organization have been as dominant as he has and few are expected to produce at such a quality level upon their call-up. Players like Beau Burrows and Matt Manning do have great ceilings, but a lot of their potential is untapped at this time. Jimenez is the type of player that could come into the majors and make an immediate difference, which is something that cannot be said about many other players in the Tigers' system.
Eye of the Tigers: In my opinion, Joe Jimenez should be ranked number four in the Tigers' prospect system. Matt Manning, Kyle Funkhouser, and JaCoby Jones should be ranked above him, but Jimenez should be no lower than number four. I would rank him as low as number four because of Al Avila's comments in September that Jimenez's stuff is not currently major-league ready. I ranked Manning and Funkhouser higher because they were drafted in the 2016 Amateur Draft and therefore have more potential. I ranked JaCoby Jones higher because of his raw power and I think he has a huge amount of major-league potential.
[Ed.: Grace was reminded of Christin Stewart and Beau Burrows shortly after posting, so adjust accordingly.]
Nolan: Jimenez is a major-league ready piece who dominated the minors all year. To not be in the top 10 is ludicrous. Even with the reliever caveats applying, Jimenez may be the best bet in the entire organization to produce a five-WAR career at this point. I can understand ranking him behind the enormous upside of Matt Manning and Christin Stewart, but that's about it. There's much more value in having a Jimenez, about as close to a sure thing as there is, than a Beau Burrows, especially if you buy that TINSTAAP (there is no such thing as a pitching prospect). This is why I would have Jimenez third in my prospect ranking.
Rob: I might be the wet blanket here, but I wasn’t all that upset by Baseball America’s list. I’m not sure that Adam Ravenelle is the eighth-best prospect in the Tigers’ organization, but I wouldn’t put Jimenez much higher than that. Relievers are mercurial players, and only the very best provide more than a win or so of value over the course of a normal season. Jimenez basically has to hit his absolute ceiling to out-perform the likes of someone like JaCoby Jones or Steven Moya over the next five years, and the sheer odds of that happening aren’t great.
Brandon: At this time last year, Baseball America ranked Joe Jimenez as the #7 prospect in the Tigers' system. Since then, Jimenez has thrown 53 and 2/3's innings in regular minor league play. His ERA in that span is 1.51. He has 78 strikeouts to 17 walks. That includes a 2.30 ERA in Triple-A at age 21, with his customarily superb K-BB ratio. As a result of those numbers, he has fallen out of the top ten. Last year's number one prospect, Michael Fulmer, was replaced by 2016 first round pick, Matt Manning. Otherwise no one in the organization has moved faster or been more dominant in his position. This is just a screw-up. Concerns about Jimenez polish, particularly in regard to his slider, in no way negate the results he had in 2016. Put him wherever you want in the top five. I have him at No. 4 personally, but to leave him out of the top ten entirely, is simply a mistake on the person or persons who compiled BA's list.