A .517 on-base percentage is an attention-getting number, even if compiled over a limited sample of 54 games of Low-A ball.
Shortstop Leo Jimenez heard a lot about it last year at Dunedin during a season that helped land him a 40-man roster spot with the Blue Jays.
“It was a crazy year for numbers,” said the 20-year-old from Chitre, Panama. “Everybody was talking about the on base-percentage and all that.
“I consider myself a guy who is always trying to get on base. Picking pitches, knowing my zone—I felt that was part of it, just knowing my zone, knowing the type of hitter I am and it went really well last year.”
Very much so, as Jimenez complemented that lofty OBP with a .316 batting average. He walked 51 times against 35 strikeouts and was hit by 21 pitches while playing 37 of his 49 games in the field at shortstop, where he was steady and consistent.
Challenged with an Arizona Fall League assignment, Jimenez, who signed with the Blue Jays in 2017, continued to show a knack for reaching base against advanced competition, batting .237/.412/.342 in 15 games, nine of them at second base.
A focal point over the winter for Jimenez was adding strength. He has only one home run and 36 extra-base hits across 154 career minor league games. He reported to his first big league camp with 199 pounds on his 5-foot-11 frame, intent on showing some more pop at the plate while not veering too far from his strengths.
“I know my zone. I select pitches. I control the zone all around,” he said. “For this year, I’m trying to keep doing that but be more aggressive on selecting pitches and actually doing damage, too.
“I knew that I needed to add some strength to my body and actually work on that strength hitting-wise, too. I feel really good coming in this year. I feel like this is going to be a big year for me.”