Historically the Red Sox have been much better at developing position players than pitchers, so it’s never really a surprise when position players dominate the top of their farm system rankings. And that’s exactly what’s happening this year as well. Three of the top four names on the list before today were position players, and this latest round of voting made it four of five, with each of the last two being similar players as a pair of athletic outfielders. The last was Jarren Duran, and following him on the list is Gilberto Jimenez, who got 38 percent of the latest vote.
Jimenez didn’t come into the Red Sox farm system with a whole lot of fanfare, signing a small bonus in August of 2017 totaling just $10,000, per Sox Prospects, out of the Dominican Republic. The Red Sox quickly began to think they had found something special here, though, and he started showing signs of it right away. The young outfielder was able to make his professional debut the following summer in 2018, playing in the Dominican Summer League. It’s hard to put yourself truly on the map in terms of public perception in that league as a small bonus player, but Jimenez did what he could. He was the Latin Program Position Player of the Year, hitting .319/.384/.420 in his first taste of pro ball.
Boston had seen enough that summer to push him relatively aggressively, allowing him to skip the complex and head right to Lowell for his second season as a pro. That’s not unheard of, but for someone who got such a small bonus it’s certainly not the norm. But again, he showed out and proved that the team was right to believe he could handle it. This was his age-19 season, not to mention his first season playing in the States, and he hit .359/.393/.470 over the course of that season, all while trying to learn to switch hit on the fly, something he had just started playing around with the previous summer.
So with two strong shortened seasons under his belt, and almost never-ending praise from those in the organization regarding his work ethic and overall makeup, Jimenez was officially one of the most exciting prospects in the system and ready for his full-season debut in 2020. Of course, COVID had other ideas, so he had to take the summer off from affiliated ball. By all accounts, he did not let the summer go to waste. He participated at Fall Instructs down in Florida and was arguably the most impressive player there. Jimenez added bulk to his frame but remained just as athletic, and was hitting the ball with more authority. Ian Cundall of Sox Prospects has more on his performance there.
And so now as we look ahead to the 2021 season, Jimenez is the player on whom you can dream the most as a Red Sox fan, which is not the same as saying he’s the best prospect. But if you look at the upper end of his tools, it’s a superstar package. The hit tool has the potential to be at least above-average, and his swing is getting better from the left side as he continues to develop as a switch hitter. The linked report above indicates that his slap-happy days in the lower minors should be behind him, leading to more balls hit with authority, which in turn should lead to a bit more power. I wouldn’t bet on a ton of power coming in his game down the pipeline, but that’s something that can develop later and his speed should allow for more extra base hits than would be expected for other players. You toss on top of all that the elite speed and good instincts in the field that could make him a dynamic center fielder, and it’s an extremely well-rounded package.
Of course, this is all talking about the upside, and that excitement should be tempered with the reality that Jimenez is still quite a ways away and still quite raw. The reported gains at Instructs are certainly encouraging, but there is still work to do with his hit tool, which projects to be potentially above-average but is not close to being there just yet. And that is the tool that can often be the most difficult to maximize. Players rarely reach their peak with any of their tools, never mind all of them. And he has yet to play a full season as a pro, which is a different animal as the grind of six months is obviously a far cry from the couple of months that come with the low minors.
With all of that said, I would still say Jimenez is the best bet to have a Capital-B Breakout in 2021 as he should finally be able to get that full season under his belt. I’m really interested to see where they put him this year, and Sox Prospects has him projected for High-A Greenville (remember, Greenville and Salem swapped levels). I certainly defer to them here, and given the raving about his makeup it’s tough to argue with it. Whether he starts at Greenville or Salem, he’s still at least a few years away from the majors, but we could see him put himself on the national radar this summer. He has a long way to go, but based on pretty much everything we’ve seen from him in his time in the system thus far there’s every reason to believe he’ll only continue to progress in the right direction.
Here is our list so far:
Here’s our list so far.
Now, you can head down into the comments and vote for the number six prospect. As a reminder, to do this you go down below and find the comment from me corresponding with the player for whom you’d like to vote. When you find said player, just click the “rec” button, and that will count your vote. To do this, you will need to be logged in as a member of the site. If you’d like to vote for a player who is not listed, just leave a comment saying “Vote for ___ here” and I’ll rec the comment to count your vote. We encourage discussion, of course, but please don’t comment under specific players’ names. Instead, scroll to the bottom to start a new comment thread in order to keep the players at the top of the comment section. Until next time...