I first became aware of Luis Antonio Jimenez in 2002, when, as a 2o-year-old Orioles farmhand, he tore up the Appy League to the tune of a .375 average, eight homers and 42 RBI in 211 at-bats. The especially curious thing about it was that the A’s had released him the year before.
Although Jimenez seemingly came out of nowhere, Baseball America thought enough of that 51-game campaign to make him the Orioles’ No. 4 prospect entering 2003, placing him behind Erik Bedard, Darnell McDonald and Daniel Cabrera. But that ranking turned bust in a hurry. Jimenez hit .244 with just one homer in low-A ball that year. Let go again, he quickly turned into a journeyman minor leaguer, spending one year apiece in the Dodgers, Twins and Red Sox systems. He rejoined the Orioles in 2007, moved to the Nationals system in 2008 and then gave Japan a try in 2009.
Once Jimenez washed out as a Nippon Ham Fighter, it figured he was done for good. However, he showed up again in the minors in 2011, hitting .294 with 16 homers between the Mariners’ top two farm clubs. Back with Triple-A Tacoma this season, he hit .310/.394/.514 with 20 homers, earning him his first major league callup this month.
Now Jimenez is getting his first start tonight as the Mariners’ DH and No. 8 hitter against the A’s. I’m not really expecting much of anything, but he certainly deserves credit for perseverance. Jimenez played in nine different leagues in 11 seasons before getting his callup this week. Hopefully he manages to hit one homer before the year is out.
The Marlins are intent on adding one of the three best relievers available on the free agent market, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Those three, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon.
As Ashley noted earlier, Melancon is reportedly fielding multiple four-year offers in excess of $60 million. The price tags for Chapman and Jansen are likely to match or exceed that. The Marlins haven’t typically been eager to whip out the checkbook for free agents but with the bullpen being the name of the game in baseball these days, GM Michael Hill may feel the need to match his rivals.
The Nationals, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers are the teams most often linked to the “big-three” group of relievers, so it won’t be easy for the Marlins.
A.J. Ramos handled the closer’s role for the Marlins this past season and did an admirable job, saving 40 games with a 2.81 ERA and a 73/35 K/BB ratio in 64 innings. There’s no doubt, though, that Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon would represent a significant upgrade in the ninth inning.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:
I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.
This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.
Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.
Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.