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Detroit Tigers Call Up Joe Jimenez: Forecasting Prospect’s Impact

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Feb 23, 2016; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Joe Jimenez (77) warms up during the Detroit Tigers spring training camp at Joker Merchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 23, 2016; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Joe Jimenez (77) warms up during the Detroit Tigers spring training camp at Joker Merchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /
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Detroit Tigers fans will see one of the team’s most exciting prospects pitch in the Major Leagues, as team announced on Twitter the promotion of Joe Jimenez. Here’s how Jimenez could make an impact.

Detroit Tigers relief pitchers have struggled so far during the 2017 season.

Justin Wilson is the only pitcher with a WAR north of zero, while Wilson and Blaine Hardy are the only Detroit pitchers who have yet to allow an earned run.

Hardy is currently in Triple-A, leaving the former Yankee as Detroit’s top setup option.

Heading into the season, it was thought Bruce Rondon would help fill that role.

However, the promising young reliever struggled in three games, allowing six runs, four hits and a strikeout in 1.1 frames.

He only struck out one over the same span.

Elsewhere, Alex Wilson (9.00 ERA), Kyle Ryan (4.50 ERA), Anibal Sanchez (9.46 ERA) and Shane Greene (9.00 ERA) have also struggled somewhat in admittedly small sample sizes.

That being said, it seems as though reinforcements are on the way.

Detroit’s official Twitter account announced on Monday morning in a tweet the call up of top pitching prospect Joe Jimenez.

The Tigers tweeted the following:

"“The #Tigers have optioned RHP Bruce Rondon to triple-A Toledo and purchased the contract of RHP Joe Jimenez form Toledo. He will wear #46.”"

Jimenez, simply put, is Detroit’s best relief pitching prospect in recent memory.

He recently ranked fifth on Motor City Bengals’ list of the top 25 minor league prospects.

Related Story: Joe Jimenez Checks in at 5th on MCB's List of Top Tigers Prospects

The right-handed hurler has a significantly-high ceiling thanks to a blazing fastball that’s flirts with triple digits and a nasty slider. Jimenez also mixes in a changeup.

That pitching arsenal has led to some gaudy numbers in the minor leagues—not to mention significant hope for the future of Detroit’s bullpen.

Minor League Dominance

Since making his professional debut in 2013, Jimenez has pitched to a miniscule 1.57 ERA. He’s also punched out 207 batters in 1431 innings.

Over that same span, he’s only given up 42 walks and four home runs.

Those numbers spit out to 13.0 strikeouts, 2.6 walks and only 0.3 home runs per nine innings.

Last season Jimenez began the year in Advanced-A Lakeland.

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However, he quickly moved to Erie after surrendering five hits, five walks and no runs in 17.1 innings.

A dominant spell in with the SeaWolves (2.18 ERA, 14.8 strikeouts per nine frames) led to another promotion to Toledo.

While pitching at the minors’ highest level, Jimenez turned in a 2.30 ERA while striking out 16 batters in 15.2 innings.

The reliever also racked up a total of 30 saves across his three minor league stops, and has 53 saves for his career.

Potential Role with the 2017 Detroit Tigers

Right off the bat, an eighth-ninth inning combination of Jimenez and Francisco Rodriguez is certainly exciting to think about, not just for this season, but for the future.

Detroit has been searching for a consistent setup man for Rodriguez since the team acquired the future Hall of Famer from the Milwaukee Brewers.

At first, Mark Lowe was thought to be the solution. However, the veteran struggled mightily with Detroit.

Mar 14, 2017; San Diego, CA, USA; Puerto Rico pitcher Joe Jimenez (43) delivers a pitch during the sixth inning against the Dominican Republic during the 2017 World Baseball Classic at Petco Park. Puerto Rico won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 14, 2017; San Diego, CA, USA; Puerto Rico pitcher Joe Jimenez (43) delivers a pitch during the sixth inning against the Dominican Republic during the 2017 World Baseball Classic at Petco Park. Puerto Rico won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports /

The Tigers then used a combination of Justin Wilson, Rondon, Alex Wilson and Shane Greene as setup options.

All four showed upside and effectiveness. However, they also struggled at times.

Jimenez has the repertoire and ability to thrive late in games.

Considering bullpen’s early struggles, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the reliever pitch late in games as a setup option.

So far in 2017, Justin Wilson has been Detroit’s only consistent setup reliever in an admittedly short sample size.

What’s more, Jimenez seems the most likely candidate to succeed K-Rod as Detroit’s closer long-term.

Next: First Power Rankings of the Season

If he reaches his potential, the 22-year-old has a chance to be one of the best closers in the league.

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