Jimenez On The Radar

Jimenez is getting rave reviews from his coaches

TAMPA, FL - Injuries have kept hard throwing righty Juan Jiminez limited to just six games [21.1 innings pitched] in the Gulf Coast League this season. Fortunately for Jimenez, his small sample size of work is a commendable product and perhaps helps disguise the fact that he has shot on to nearly everyone's radar.

Aside from a shaky first start in which he gave up three earned runs over three innings pitched, the pre-injury version of Jimenez looked like a staff ace [alongside fellow Dominican right-hander Simon De La Rosa].

After surrendering three scores in his first game, Jimenez only allowed three runs total over his next four starts. In those four ensuing games [15 innings pitched], he would go on to post a 1.68 ERA with 13 strikeouts and no home runs allowed.

Despite the setbacks and frustrations of not being able to play, Jimenez has maintained a level head through it all. In the short time he’s played, he believes he’s had invaluable training and development. Additionally, having a full Extended Spring Training under his belt has also helped him build confidence as a pitcher.

“I had a good time during Extended Spring Training,” he said through a translator. “I feel like it was a good Spring Training because I had a lot of goals I was working on and felt that I executed all of them.”

Pitching coach Jose Rosado agrees. Rosado also believes that Jimenez handled his injury situation very maturely and that he’ll regain form in no time.

“He’s dealt with some setbacks but he’s the type of guy that’s going to bounce right back,” Rosado said.

So just who is Juan Jimenez?

In short, a burly twenty-year-old with a lot of promise. It’s easy to over-hype players that excel in the Gulf Coast League, but Jimenez justifies his merits on raw potential alone.

“I expect him to pitch in the big leagues sooner than later. He has all the qualities of a big league pitcher,” Rosado raved.

For Jimenez to make the next step, he self-admittedly can’t solely rely on his fastball. His fastball has given him quite a bit of success this year, but as he ascends the rungs of the farm system he’ll need to develop his offspeed pitches to avoid being too predictable.

That being said, his fastball is quite a weapon.

Most scouts gauge the fastball between 93-95 mph and are impressed with the late explosion of movement on the ball. Once Jimenez gets ahead in the count he utilizes his heater to close out at bats.

To clarify, his pitching arsenal is not entirely constructed around his fastball. His coaches, including Rosado, say that his secondary pitches [a slider and changeup] are “solid pitches at the moment that will continue to improve down the road.”

With the culmination of a somewhat disappointing season looming given his nagging injuries, including a 'dead arm' period, Jimenez is focused on building for the future during the offseason.

In his first season, the grounds of the Yankee complex on Himes Ave were a proving ground, a place where he felt he needed to showcase why he belonged. Now that people have witnessed what he’s capable of, it’s no longer about proving himself as much as it is executing and performing.

“First of all, I want to stay healthy and finish strong. My main focus right now is to be able to finish feeling good then work hard to be able to be back in top form next Spring Training,” Jimenez remarked.

“It’s good for me to be here because when I was younger, I never had this kind of training and experience.”

At the end of the day, Juan Jimenez is a hot commodity. He has a superb fastball, two above-average pitches, and a chip on his shoulder. He’s battled identity crisis issues, injuries and still manages to dazzle when he finally does play. Keep this guy on your radar heading into next season.

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