Joe Jimenez is the Detroit Tigers’ top relief prospect, but the club doesn’t expect him to make the opening day roster.
The Detroit Tigers‘ top relief pitching prospect, Joe Jimenez, struck out 78 batters in 54 minor league innings as he rose from Lakeland (Adv-A) to Erie (AA) to Toledo (AAA) in a wildly successful 2016 season. But manager Brad Ausmus does not see him making the jump to the big leagues to begin the 2017, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com.
"“We think the fastball plays now,” Ausmus said of Jimenez’s upper-90s heater. “It’s the secondary [pitches] that he’s honing and working on.”"
Jimenez struck out over 38% of the batters he faced in the minor leagues that season, but major league hitters are not as easily fooled. Pitchers can rarely survive in the big leagues with only a fastball, but Jimenez’s slider needs to be up to snuff before he’ll be capable of translating that dominance to the majors.
"“Hitters recognize things when they’re different,” Ausmus said. “And you want to everything to look as much like a fastball as possible when it’s coming out of your hand. He was getting a little bit on the side of the ball, which immediately a hitter would know it’s not a fastball. Vic was explaining what he saw.”"
Subtle pitch tipping might not be noticed by young minor league players, but it’s something that’s sure to be discovered in the major leagues. With a high level of advanced scouting, perceptive players, and high-quality video archives of every game, it’s not something Jimenez would be able to get away with for very long.
It’s not clear if the potential pitch tipping is all that Jimenez needs to work on with respect to his secondary offerings, but that alone should be enough of a challenge as he works to re-train his body with new muscle memory.