Joe Jiménez

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Joe Alexander Jimenez

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Biographical Information[edit]

Joe Jimenez is a graduate of Major League Baseball's Urban Youth Academy facility set up in Puerto Rico to encourage youngsters from the island to pursue a career in professional baseball. He displayed a 94 mph fastball, but somehow did not get selected when he became eligible for the 2013 amateur draft. However, a week after the draft, the Detroit Tigers invited him to a tryout camp and signed him for a bonus of $100,000. The scouts were Rolando Casanova and German Geigel.

He began his professional career with the GCL Tigers at the age of 18 in 2013, going 3-0, 0.50 in 8 games, giving up only 9 hits while striking out 24 batters in 18 innings. In 2014, he pitched for the Connecticut Tigers of the New York-Penn League, going 3-2 with 4 saves and a 2.70 ERA in 23 games, all as a reliever. He continued to flash overpowering stuff with 41 Ks and only 6 walks in 26 2/3 innings. That winter, he was even better with the Gigantes de Carolina (3 H, 1 BB, 0 R, 15 K in 12 2/3 IP, 2 Sv, .081 opponent average).

With his fastball now timed at 99 mph, he was assigned to the West Michigan Whitecaps of the Midwest League to start 2015 and after putting up a 1.73 ERA in 26 games and racking up 10 saves, he was added to the World team's roster for the 2015 Futures Game. Relieving Frankie Montas in the 7th inning with a 10-1 deficit, he retired Kyle Waldrop and fanned Aaron Judge. Juan Gonzalez then relieved. He finished the season 5-1 with 17 saves and a 1.47 ERA, allowing just 23 hits and 11 walks in 43 innings while whiffing 61. He was 5th in the Midwest League in saves (between Eduardo Paredes and Trevor Hildenberger) and second in the Tigers chain (behind only Paul Voelker).

Back with Carolina for the winter in 2015-16, he was 0-2 with 6 saves, a 2.60 ERA and 23 K in 17 1/3 IP. He tied Ricardo Gomez for 3rd in the Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League in saves and won Rookie of the Year; the last Gigantes winner was Miguel Martinez 12 years earlier. In 2016, he pitched at three different levels, starting with the Class A Lakeland Flying Tigers, before moving on to the AA Erie SeaWolves and the AAA Toledo Mud Hens. His combined record was 3-3, 1.51 in 55 games woth 30 saves and 78 strikeouts in 53 2/3 innings.

Joe started 2017 back at Toledo, but after only two appearances, was called up to Detroit where he made his big league debut on April 13th by tossing a perfect inning in an 11-5 loss to the Minnesota Twins. He went 0-2, 12.32 in 24 games as he gave up 31 hits and 9 walks in 19 innings. He did a lot better in 2018 as he was named the sole representative of a weak Tigers team to the All-Star Game in a season in which he went 5-4, 4.31 in 68 games, with 3 saves. It is fair to say that had he been with any other team, he would not have been under consideration for the Mid-Summer Classic, even with an ERA of 2.72 in the first half, but at least he had established himself as a useful major league reliever. One red flag was that his ERA after the break was 7.78. However, he had another quite similar season in 2019, pitching 66 times out of the Tigers' bullpen with a record of 4-7, 9 saves and an ERA of 4.37.

Joe had a season to forget in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season as his ERA ballooned to 7.15 in 25 outings, to go along with a record of 5-3 and 5 saves. Underlying numbers weren't as bad, though, as he gave up 25 hits in 22 2/3 innings, struck out22 and walked just 6. He still struggled in 2021, however, going 6-1 but with another high ERA at 5.96 and just 1 save. He allowed just 34 hits in 45 1/3 innings, but that was a result of his control deserting him, to the tune of 35 walks in that brief span. He bounced back in 2022 with his best overall season, going 3-2, 3.49 in 62 games, with 2 saves and an excellent K/W ratio of 77/13 in 56 2/3 innings. It was that version of Jiménez which the Atlanta Braves were hoping to acquire when they made a trade with the Tigers on December 7th, sending two prospects, OF Justyn-Henry Malloy and P Jake Higginbotham, in order to acquire the veteran reliever.

His brother A.J. Jimenez also made his major league debut in 2017. His father José (Papo) Jiménez played in Puerto Rico's semipro league and has coached for the Puerto Rican national team.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • AL All-Star (2018)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Mark Bowman: "Braves bolster bullpen, acquire Jiménez from Tigers",, December 7, 2022. [1]
  • Jorge L. Ortiz: "Joe Jimenez proving doubters wrong with Futures Game appearance", USA Today Sports, July 12, 2015. [2]

Related Sites[edit]