There is little doubt that Joe Jimenez had the best season of his career in 2016, and arguably put up one of the best performances of anyone in the entire Tigers’ farm system. Skyrocketing from Class-A Advanced all the way to Toledo, slicing his way through the opposing lineups with ease, and forcing his way to the forefront of the mind of every Tigers fan.
There is no question as to why, posting sensational numbers that seem like they could have only come from a video game. However, with his call to the majors, things could go either way for the young fireballer, so let’s take a look at what he has to offer.
For Jimenez, everything starts and ends with the fastball. An easy 70 on the scout’s grading scale, the heater is his bread and butter. It brushes triple digits at times, sitting in the 95-98 mph range and featuring good running movement. He has power to spare and comes to the mound with a load of confidence that makes his already fantastic four-seamer even better.
The pitch isn’t just good for it’s velocity. Unlike the high-octane offerings served up by many a one-dimensional reliever, Jimenez can do more with his fastball than just try to blow it by guys. The running action he gets on the offering causes plenty of ugly swings and popups.
Backing up the flamethrower’s primary offering is a slider that is nearly as vicious as the fastball is potent. Take a look at this video and see for yourself.
I think the slider is getting better. What you think? pic.twitter.com/TyJ9hBMLms— Joe Jiménez (@JAJimenez27) March 15, 2017
A formidable weapon against right-handed foes, the slider is not as good as the fastball, but it’s still nothing to sneeze at. It has good movement that makes it extraordinarily hard to make solid contact and he gets tons of whiffs using it. It sits in the 85-86 mph area, and that velocity difference adds even more deception to the pitch. Topping all of this off is the arm slot that Jimenez utilizes. A 3⁄4 delivery makes it challenging for righties to pick up the ball out of his hand.
Lastly, the control Jimenez has over his pitches can easily be called a strength. While it has never been called above-average, 50 grade command is fantastic for a player with such monstrous stuff as Jimenez’. While many a prospective closer has washed out because he cannot harness his arsenal, this will likely not be the case here.
The changeup has always been the big reliever’s worst pitch. In 2015, while he was with West Michigan, it was moving towards a bit of a circle change, but being the only below-average pitch in the dynamic closer’s arsenal, there has never been much (read: any) talk about it. However, coming into spring training, there was a slight buzz because of some comments made by James McCann, the Tigers’ starting catcher.
“He’s got a really good changeup,” McCann remarked. “I had no idea that he had a changeup like that.”
True, the comment may have been off the cuff, it may have been an exaggeration, for all we know, it may have been nothing more than disingenuously talking up a highly rated prospect. However, it is just as likely Jimenez has actually developed a solid change, and if that is the case, then the big leagues had better look out. A good changeup would give the righty an offering that victimizes left-handed batters in particular, completing a downright scary trio of pitches.
What will Jimenez do in the majors? Time will tell, and unfortunately that’s the only way to find out. Until then, though, there is a lot to be excited about and plenty to look forward to.