Signed as a somewhat raw, gangly 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 2013, Jimenez has undergone a maturation process that has seen him fill out physically (he’s listed at 6’4″ and 205 pounds, though he looks like he is comfortably carrying more weight than that) while also mastering the mental aspects of the game.
Jimenez always had a knack for barreling up the baseball, but a level swing plane, a skinny frame, and an aggressive approach kept him from tapping into his power early. He has since added some muscle along with a bit more lift to his swing.
The raw power has been there for the last two falls, where one could frequently find Jimenez depositing baseballs atop the Under Armour Performance Center roof adjacent to Field 6 of the Cubs training complex in Mesa.
The question after last year’s instructional league and this year’s spring training was whether Jimenez can translate that raw power into game power. He began to answer those questions in the 2016 season, and its carried over to the AFL, where he is continuing to show some pop. He has become more disciplined with his approach, and while the walk rates do not yet reflect his patience at the plate, he’s shown a willingness to wait for pitches he can drive and work the count in his favor.
On Friday, Jimenez hit a scorching line drive home run that just cleared the left field wall, but we’ve almost come to expect that sort of thing. What was almost just as impressive was his first at-bat of the day. With a runner on second base and first base open, Brett Martin (LHP, Rangers) was cautious with Jimenez, feeding him a diet of breaking balls and fastballs just off the plate. It wasn’t that long ago that the 19-year-old slugger would have taken the bait and chased those pitches. Not this time. Jimenez let those pitches go and took the walk and trusted his teammates to do the damage, which they ultimately did. Sometimes the most important lesson a young slugger can learn is that he doesn’t have to do it all by himself.
In his third at-bat, Jimenez lined a single, showing his versatility has a hitter by taking the pitch right back where it was thrown and driving it up the middle. While power figures to be the tool that carries him, Jimenez projects to be at least an average hitter as well.
He has also improved in the field, particularly in terms of his reads and routes. Along with a lot of extra work, a shift to left field seems to have helped him in terms of seeing the ball off the bat and getting better jumps. The arm is above average, though he doesn’t have the raw arm strength of current Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler.
The Cubs are undoubtedly counting on that bat to carry Jimenez, but he is by no means a one tool player. He figures to give the Cubs at least average production in all other phases of the game – defense, arm strength, base running, and hitting for average. – John Arguello