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Eduardo Jimenez Opens Eyes In AFL

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It’s taken some time, but the Tigers believe they are seeing Eduardo Jimenez come of age.

Two seasons ago, Jimenez’s season highlight was a low light. The righthanded reliever was suspended 30 games for escalating an on-field altercation at low Class A West Michigan.

But after a solid 2018 season at high Class A Lakeland—and an even better showing in the Arizona Fall League—the 23-year-old Jimenez is putting himself in position to reach the big leagues, perhaps sooner rather than later.

In the AFL, Jimenez allowed two earned runs in 13.2 innings for Mesa, with 12 strikeouts and two walks. The Tigers added him to the 40-man roster after the 2017 season.

"He’s got good stuff,” vice president of player development Dave Littlefield said. "He located his pitches better, and overall he was more under control delivery-wise.”

Jimenez, who signed out of Venezuela in 2011, is described as an aggressive reliever, according to one rival talent evaluator, who projected he would ultimately end up as a middle reliever.

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Jimenez recorded a 3.42 ERA in 40 appearances with Lakeland in 2018, notching 15 saves and striking out 51 in 50 innings. He is positioned to reach Detroit for the rebuilding Tigers as early as 2019.

"He’s a talented righty, but with a lot of them, it’s all going to come down to consistency with stuff and command,” Littlefield said. "He’s certainly got the ability to make an impact.”

Perhaps Jimenez unlocked a key to that consistency in the AFL, pitching near the end of a long season, in which he didn’t rely so much on his big fastball.

Jimenez sat between 92-96 mph in the AFL, but Littlefield said there is even more than that in the tank.

"He’s been up to 100 (mph) in earlier times,” he said. "At the end of the season, guys aren’t usually throwing quite as hard, but he’s got plenty of arm strength.”

Jimenez will likely begin next season at Double-A Erie.

About his future, Littlefield said, "It’s hard to say right now. He’s got plenty of stuff to actually be as strong as a closer, but the consistency and command will be the two things that will determine where he goes . . . But we’re very happy to have him. He’s a nice-looking reliever for us."

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