Our 2024 Detroit Tigers top 30 prospects list kicks off with Enrique Jimenez
It's time to begin the countdown of the Motor City Bengals top 30 Detroit Tigers prospects for 2024. Starting off this year's list, we have 18-year-old catcher Enrique Jimenez, who was the Tigers top international signing in 2023. He was the 32nd ranked international prospect by MLB Pipeline at the time and signed for $1.25 million.
A native of Venezuela, Jimenez has received high praise for his catching ability, which is pretty impressive considering his age. He was the 18th-ranked Tigers prospect after the 2023 season by MLB Pipeline (note: Pipeline's 2024 top 30 prospects by team have yet to be released at the time of this writing).
Here's what Pipeline has to say regarding his catching ability:
"(Jimenez) exhibits impressive footwork that helps him move and keeps balls in front of him, and he receives the ball well at an early age. His overall arm strength is just average, but he makes up for it with his ability to jump out of the crouch quickly on steal attempts. There might not be a plus tool here just yet for the (18-year-old), but it’s a well-balanced foundation on which to build his budding career."- MLB Pipeline
In the batter's box, Jimenez is a switch-hitter, something the Tigers don't have a lot of in their system. In two stops with the Tigers' affiliates in the Dominican Summer League, Jimenez slashed .277/.388/.418 with one home run and an .806 OPS in 2023. He had 24 walks compared to 30 strikeouts, which is a pretty solid ratio. For those who may be worried by the lack of homers, remember two things: A) he had 11 doubles and three triples, and B) he was a 17-year-old in rookie ball this past year. Power is typically the last thing to develop with hitters.
Here's what Pipeline has to say about this hitting ability:
"The switch-hitter may be on the smaller side for a backup, but what he lacks in size, he makes up for in athleticism. That translates solidly to the box, where he has done a solid early job of putting bat on ball with a compact swing from both sides. His early power is playing better from the left side, but that could even out with more reps against southpaws in the pros."- MLB Pipeline
Catcher is the hardest position to learn, so the hitting may not be as strong at first. Having a strong backstop who knows how to call a game is incredibly valuable, as we've seen with Jake Rogers. If he's still a little green at the plate by the time he reaches the upper minors, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
Jimenez grabs the No. 30 spot in our list because of his upside as a young catcher. He was a top international prospect for a reason. One thing we should be clear about is that it is VERY difficult to project teenagers. For all we know, Jimenez could flame out in A-ball. We're banking purely on upside here.
We'll leave you with one of the only publically known videos of Jimenez, linked here. It's quite difficult to find video of these teenage ballplayers, and it makes it just as difficult to properly evaluate them. But from everything we can read, we like Jimenez as a prospect. He's the first prospect on our list.