Blue Jays Trade Opens Opportunity For Jimenez
TORONTO—A.J. Jimenez used to be considered a sleeper among the organization's catching prospects. He received less publicity than J.P. Arencibia and Travis d'Arnaud, who were a little older and more advanced.
Now, with Arencibia established in Toronto and d'Arnaud traded to the Mets in the deal that brought 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays, the focus turns to Jimenez among the system's catching prospects.
"We have high hopes for him," assistant general manager Tony LaCava said. "We think he's going to be an everyday catcher in the big leagues."
Despite having his season limited to 27 games at Double-A New Hampshire in 2012 because of Tommy John surgery, Jimenez was put on the 40-man roster in November.
"He'll be good to go for spring training," LaCava said. "For a position player it usually is not like the 12 to 14 months (of rehabilitation) for a pitcher. As a catcher it is a significant thing, but all indications are that he should be fine for spring training."
An injury to the right elbow is significant for Jimenez because his ability to throw runners out is a big part of his game. In his short stint with the Fisher Cats in 2012, he threw out 12 of 22 basestealers (55 percent). He has caught 42 percent of basestealers for his minor league career. He also led the Fisher Cats in pickoffs for the whole season—pitchers included—with three.
"He's a well above-average defensive catcher that can stop the running game," LaCava said. "He's a line-drive, contact bat. He's hit .300 at a couple of stops. He lost time last season so he'll go back to Double-A and pick up where he left off."
The 22-year-old righthanded hitter batted .257/.295/.371 for New Hampshire. His last game of the season was May 13.
"He's got a good way with the pitchers, he's a heck of defender and the bat is underrated we think," LaCava said.
• The trade for Dickey cost Toronto their top prospect in d'Arnaud, who who is coming off a knee injury, and righthander Noah Syndergaard, who was Toronto's No. 3 prospect at the time of the deal.
• Also sent to the Mets in the deal was 18-year-old outfielder Wuilmer Becerra, who is from Venezuela and signed with the Blue Jays for $1.3 million as an international free agent in July 2011. Becerra was limited to 32 at-bats in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League last year after he was hit in the face by a pitch on July 3.