In case you missed it, the Red Sox added top outfield prospect Gilberto Jimenez to their major-league spring training roster as a non-roster invitee Friday afternoon.
Jimenez, who does not turn 21 until July, is now the second-youngest player at Red Sox camp behind 2020 first-round draft pick Nick Yorke.
Manager Alex Cora has had high praise for the 18-year-old infielder since he arrived in Fort Myers for his first ever big-league spring training last month. His attention now shifts to another youngster at the Fenway South complex in the form of Jimenez.
“Just like the other kids, to be able to have him here, work out with us and learn the game,” Cora said of the 20-year-old outfielder following a 5-4 win over the Rays at JetBlue Park on Friday. “Hopefully, he can get some at-bats and see what he can do.”
Jimenez is currently ranked as the No. 5 prospect in Boston’s farm system by Baseball America.
Last time he saw any organized minor-league action, the Dominican national slashed .359/.393/.370 with three home runs, 19 RBI, and 14 stolen bases across 59 games for Low-A Lowell in 2019.
At that time, Jimenez was listed at 5-foot-11 and around 160 lbs. Since then, he has bulked up tremendously. And he put that added muscle on full display at the Sox’ fall instructional league last year (2020).
“The young Dominican is now listed at 212 pounds, up significantly from where he was with Lowell,” SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall wrote of Jimenez’s showing at fall instructs in December. “Even though he has added that much size, he still is an elite athlete and has only lost a little speed, now grading as a 70 runner rather than 80.”
Among minor-leaguers in the Red Sox system, the switch-hitting Jimenez is perhaps one of, if not the quickest prospect the organization has to offer.
That aspect of his game — as well as his strength — is something Cora is looking forward to seeing in action.
“This is the first time I’ve seen him,” the Sox skipper said. “Strong kid. Strong. Looking forward to him to go out there and learn from the guys. It should be fun to see him run around the bases.”
Cora wanting Jimenez to learn from the veterans around him at camp should come as no surprise. He did after all encourage Yorke to follow around Enrique Hernandez during workouts.
“He’s going to spend a lot of time with us, but that’s what I want him to do,” Cora said of Yorke late last month. “Just learn, keep working, understand what it takes to be a big-leaguer, and he’ll be a big-leaguer. He’ll be a big-leaguer.”
Though he did not say it on Friday, it’s safe to assume Cora wants Jimenez and Yorke to share the same sort of experience this spring.
Put another way, neither of the organization’s most talented prospects have a realistic shot of cracking Boston’s Opening Day roster or getting called up to the majors this year, but what they learn right now could help them down the line as they continue on with their development.
Jimenez, who signed out of the Dominican for just $10,000 back in 2017, is projected to begin the 2021 minor-league season with High-A Greenville, whose season does not start until sometime in May at the earliest.
This year has the potential to be an important one for the speedster, as he is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his professional career this December.
At this point, one would have to assume that Jimenez is a favorite to secure a spot on Boston’s 40-man roster some time between now and November 20, but a strong season in Greenville — or wherever else he plays — certainly wouldn’t hurt, either.
(Picture of Gilberto Jimenez: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)