Right-handed pitcher Joe Jimenez is headed back to baseball's All-Star Futures Game. Major League Baseball announced the full rosters on Tuesday, and Jimenez was one of two Detroit Tigers prospects selected. The other was outfielder Christin Stewart, making his first-ever appearance for the U.S. Team -- Jimenez, meanwhile, is back on the World roster.
For Jimenez, the scene is nothing new. His initial trip was in 2015 after being the only Tigers prospect sent to Cincinnati for the World Team. Then in Single-A, the flame-throwing righty has since been moved up to Double-A Erie, where, after starting in Lakeland this year, has continued to dominate opposing teams.
Jimenez played in 17 games for Lakeland, during which time it became clear that he needed a new challenge. The matchups simply weren't fair anymore. He didn't allow a run through May 26 at that level, and gave up a mere five hits and the same in walks, while striking out 28 batters across 17 1/3 innings pitched.
But even after being moved to Double-A, he didn't slow down. It wasn't until his latest outing on June 25 that Jimenez gave up a run (and allowed two hits in the same frame). All year. And that was after 10 games with Erie in which he struck out the side thrice and wracked up 18 strikeouts total in 10 innings.
To this point, Jimenez has been met with little challenge. Soon, he'll either need to be moved up to Triple-A Toledo or given a chance with the major league club, and the latter might not be a stretch given what he's shown he can do.
As for Stewart, he's been hitting the crap out of baseballs this year. His specialty of late has been the long ball, blasting 18 home runs in 74 games for the Single-A club. This is Stewart's first year at a full-season minor league level, so there are some adjustments he's yet to make.
The biggest thing to watch will be the strikeouts -- he's whiffed 80 times this year, which comes in roughly at 26 percent and on the wrong end of the spectrum for control in the batter's box. Stewart isn't one to hit for average, but he gets on-base regularly and can hit for plenty of power.
That raw power should continue to pay dividends as the season progresses, and it will be interesting to see if he can cut down on the strikeouts. For now, though, Stewart's efforts in his first full minor league season are more than enough to garner a Futures selection for the U.S. Team.