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For the Red Sox, spring training offered an intriguing glimpse of one of the more fascinating prospects in the system.
Outfielder Gilberto Jimenez presents dazzling possibilities but with a significant amount of development in front of him, given that the 20-year-old arrived in spring training yet to play full-season ball.
Because Jimenez lost a year of development to the coronavirus pandemic, working out on his own in the Dominican Republic through the summer, the Red Sox wanted to bring him to camp to work with big league coaches and learn a big league routine.
The 5-foot-11, 212-pound Jimenez opened eyes.
Though the switch-hitter is only a few years into employing a lefthanded swing, he delivered competitive at-bats against far more advanced pitchers, going 3-for-13 with a pair of doubles, three walks, a pair of steals and some highlight-reel catches and throws in the outfield.
“He’s definitely trying to learn to swing, but boy he’s got tools,” Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers said. “I’m excited to watch him grow as a player.”
When hitting lefthanded, Jimenez typically slaps at the ball and shoots it to the opposite field, with a notion that his plus-plus speed affords him a chance to beat out even routine grounders.
While he’s still refining his outfield routes, Jimenez’s speed already has translated to range that projects as above-average to plus. The 2017 international signee from the Dominican Republic also features one of the strongest arms in the system.
Jimenez is expected to start the season at Low-A Salem. He currently features a contact-heavy approach that yields a high groundball rate, but it’s not hard to imagine him tapping into power.
“He reminds me of (former big league second baseman) Luis Castillo from the left side—a guy who flies, hits the ball the other way, and just says, ‘Try to throw me out at first,’ ” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.
“There’s a lot of work to do from the lefthanded swing to running the bases to making decisions in the outfield. But as far as tools and talent, he’s a good one.”
— On April 4, Rule 5 righthander Garrett Whitlock became the first Red Sox pitcher ever to strike out at least five batters without issuing a run or walk in his big league debut.
— Righthander Bryan Mata, who suffered a partial ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow early in spring training, started a throwing program in late March.