DETROIT — It was the best 5 a.m. wake-up “call” Joe Jimenez will ever get. Mud Hens manager Mike Rojas personally knocked on his door, letting the Tigers’ prized prospect know that he had been called up to Detroit and needed to get on a flight right away.
“I still don’t believe it, man,” Jimenez said. “I still don’t believe it. Being here with these guys, it’s just amazing.”
A call-up is any prospect’s lifelong dream, but getting the news so early in the season was a surprise, to Jimenez and his family. But he’s no qualms with it, or the early hour at which he was summoned.
After being told the news, the first person Jimenez shared the news with was his father, who woke his mom. Everyone cried upon hearing the news, and he’s happy to have officially beat his older brother — A.J. Jimenez, a 26-year-old pitching prospect with the Rangers — in the battle over who would make it to the big leagues first. They’ve had a pretty good back-and-forth going on about it, he said.
The Tigers’ closely guarded flame-throwing prospect reliever still needs to work on refining his slider. It shows as much in his pitching and the team has acknowledged there’s some growth yet to be done. Jimenez believes otherwise.
“I think it’s 100 percent right now,” he said of his slider. “I felt pretty good at the start of spring training, at the WBC, and the two games that I threw at Triple-A. I thought it was pretty good. I think it’s about 100 percent right now.”
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Monday morning that the team will ease Jimenez into relief, giving him low key situations to face first. They’re already cautious about bringing him up so early, and facing major league hitters with regularity will test his abilities.
But Jimenez has no issues with being thrown into any situation that the Tigers hand him. The 22-year-old may still be letting the achievement soak in, but he doesn’t believe his pitching ability will be affected just because he’s stoked about the call-up.
Even so, Ausmus didn’t bother with over-hyping Jimenez’s promotion.
“We might catch lightning in a bottle,” Ausmus said. “But I’d caution you against thinking this is some kind of answer. This is a young kid with a big arm, who's still developing.”
Tell that to Tigers fans.