#5 Joe Jimenez
Position: Relief Pitcher
2016 Minor League Affiliate: Toledo Mud Hens
The hype surrounding Joe Jimenez has been building for years.
After signing with Detroit in 2013, Jimenez made an instant impact in the Gulf Coast League.
In just 18 innings, the reliever struck out 24 batters while allowing only nine hits, six walks and one run.
The 2014 season saw the pitcher see action in the New York-Pennsylvania League. In said new league, Jimenez continued to dominate, with 13.8 strikeouts per nine innings and a 2.70 ERA.
A 2015 promotion to Single-A West Michigan saw Jimenez continue to post eye-popping numbers.
The right-handed pitcher turned in a sparkling 1.47 ERA, allowing just seven earned runs in 40 appearances. Additionally, the 2015 campaign saw Jimenez strike out 61 hitters while walking just 11.
At that point, the 22-year-old was a few years away from being ready for the Majors.
Things changed in 2016.
Jimenez pitched in 53.2 innings across three different stops—Advanced-A Lakeland, Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo.
True to form, he continued to post numbers in the ERA category of the stat sheet while striking out batters left and right.
All told, Jimenez had a 1.51 ERA and 13.1 strikeouts per nine innings last season. He also finished 52 games while racking up 30 saves.
What is perhaps most encouraging about the prospect career so far is that he’s allowed just 40 walks and four home runs as a professional pitcher.
Potential Future Role with the Detroit Tigers
A closer for most of his minor league career, Jimenez seems destined to eventually take over for Francisco Rodriguez at the back end of Detroit’s bullpen.
That obviously won’t happen right away, but the right-hander’s ability to miss bats with an excellent fastball-slider combination should set him up for a successful career with plenty of saves.