don't look so sad, you got your wish
Via unconfirmed reports out of Pablo Sandoval, Luis Jimenez is getting promoted to the Major Leagues. Now, immediately, there's some confusion -- a quick Baseball-Reference search reveals three active Luis Jimenezes in affiliated baseball. But one of them's at the lowest level with the Dodgers, so he's out. Another has performed well with triple-A Salt Lake, but he's out of the Dominican. The third -- Luis Antonio Jimenez -- is out of Venezuela, like Sandoval, and indeed, running a Twitter search, it's that third Luis Jimenez who's getting the call. The one who belongs to the Seattle Mariners organization, the one who spent the year with the Tacoma Rainiers.
Every single season, around this time, there are new stories like this. Luis Jimenez played with an Oakland affiliate in 2001. He's been a member of several organizations since, and he's spent some time in Japan. Last May, he turned 30 years old, and he's never before seen the Major Leagues. The story doesn't quite feel fresh, but that isn't the story's fault; the story is amazing, and it's our fault for not treating each one of them individually, like we ought to. Every single older non-prospect who gets his first crack at the bigs is living out a life-long dream. We're just kind of jaded, because we're horrible.
Probably the first thing people know about Luis Jimenez, if they know anything at all, is that he's a big dude. Actually no, probably the first thing people know about Luis Jimenez is that he's a baseball player. The second thing they know is that he's a big dude. He's officially listed at 6'3 and just shy of 300 pounds. His name is Luis Antonio Jimenez, meaning his initials are LAJ, which is "large" with a Boston accent. Jimenez doesn't exactly look like an athlete, although he does look like a classic slugger.
And that's what he is. This year Jimenez DH'd twice as often as he played first base, and while I don't have reports on his first-base defense, I can imagine. Jimenez was also named the Rainiers' offensive player of the year, having batted .310 with a .907 OPS and 20 dingers. The team as a whole had a .757 OPS and the PCL as a whole had a .775 OPS, so Jimenez didn't blow the competition out of the water, but he hit well and pretty consistently on a team that wasn't good. Carlos Peguero did manage to out-hit Jimenez in triple-A but Jimenez played there all the time while Peguero got shuffled back and forth.
In terms of performance, I'm not going to tell you to expect Jimenez to light things up. He has good power, but not outstanding power. His plate discipline is all right, but it's not the most polished. His contact rate is fine, but short of great or even average, and you can let your imagination run wild when you think about his defense and baserunning. Jimenez, presumably, isn't the answer. It's not all that different a story from Bucky Jacobsen's, but Bucky Jacobsen slugged .661 with Tacoma and then the rest, we don't need to talk about. Jimenez might mash a few dingers. He might sit a lot. Odds are the Mariners aren't thinking about him as Justin Smoak's long-term replacement.
But Jimenez has earned this promotion, and with the minor-league season over, now he gets to spend a month, his first month, in a Major-League clubhouse. He gets to earn a Major-League salary, he gets to sit in a Major-League dugout, and every so often he'll get to hit against Major-League pitchers. Maybe he'll open somebody's eyes, or maybe he won't, and maybe he'll forever be a fan-favorite triple-A slugger, but this is what Jimenez has been trying for all along, so this is the realization of a dream 30 years in the making. Or a little less than that, presuming Jimenez wasn't thinking about baseball the instant he was born.
Interestingly, Jimenez isn't on the 40-man roster. The 40-man roster at present is full, and there's no one who can be shuffled to the 60-day DL. Some move's going to have to be made, and while I can make a few suggestions, we'll just have to see how this plays out. There's a reason, probably a few of them, that the Jimenez promotion isn't yet official. But I guess it's happening. Jimenez has had the conversation, and now someone on the roster is going to have a very different conversation.