By Jim Callis
July 12, 2002
When the Padres acquired D’Angelo Jimenez from the Yankees in June 2001 for Jay Witasick, they thought they had found their shortstop of the present and future. When Jimenez’ range was found lacking, San Diego shifted him to second base, which had been another void in its lineup. But when he didn’t hit through the first half of 2002, the Padres decided they had seen enough and traded him to the White Sox on Friday for a pair of minor leaguers, outfielder Alex Fernandez and catcher Humberto Quintero.
Jimenez, 24, was ranked among the best shortstop prospects in baseball before he broke his neck in January 2000 when his car hit a bus in his native Dominican Republic. He missed most of that season before getting his first extended shot in the big leagues in 2001, when he hit .276-3-33 in 86 games after being traded to the Padres. He batted just .240-3-33 in 87 games with San Diego this year. Jimenez has a line-drive stroke from both sides of the plate, and he draws a healthy amount of walks. He should be able to hit for average with decent power, but he has struck out 135 times in 180 big league games. His speed outstrips his basestealing ability, though he should be able to play a solid second base. San Diego also used him at third base after Sean Burroughs got hurt, but Jimenez doesn’t have the bat for that position.
The White Sox immediately sent Jimenez to Triple-A Charlotte, where they already have a pair of talented middle infielders in second baseman Willie Harris and shortstop Tim Hummel. Both members of Chicago’s double-play combination, Ray Durham and Royce Clayton, will be free agents after this season, leaving plenty of opportunity for these prospects. It’s also possible that Jose Valentin will move from third base to shortstop (or the outfield), finally clearing a spot for Triple-A third baseman Joe Crede.
Fernandez was signed out of the Dominican by the Mariners in 1998 and was taken by the White Sox in the Triple-A Rule 5 draft at the 2001 Winter Meetings. After a mediocre Double-A season in 2000, he has returned to that level at Birmingham with a vengeance. He hit .292-7-52 with 20 steals in 87 games with the Barons, and won the home run derby and MVP award at the Southern League all-star game. His plate discipline is nonexistent (60 strikeouts, eight walks) and his outfield defense is nothing more than average, but he has some offensive potential—if his listed age of 21 is correct. Though Fernandez wasn’t one of the many Dominicans whose age was revised in the offseason, his has been questioned for years.
Quintero, a 22-year-old who signed out of Venezuela in 1997, was considered the best defensive catcher in the White Sox system and addresses the biggest weakness in the Padres chain. He has a fantastic arm and was leading the high Class A Carolina League by throwing out 62 percent of basestealers this year, but he has shown little with the bat. Quintero has just one home run and a .251 average in 371 pro games, including .216-0-20 totals in 71 contests with three teams in 2002.