For most minor league players, Bradenton is the first stop of their journey to the majors. It’s also the first chance a lot of people get to see some of them play, making it an interesting place as projection and hearsay starts to become visual with your own set of eyes.
You hear the names of players that might make the move up to full season baseball, but until they do there are just the names.
Last year coming off the 2020 season shutdown, the Pittsburgh Pirates decided to get aggressive with the placement of some of their younger prospects, resulting in Bradenton being one of the youngest teams in the league. It worked out well, as they won the Low-A Southeast division.
They continued that trend pushing some of those players to Greensboro, also opening the door for the next wave of prospects to get their feet wet in full season baseball.
One of the players with the 2022 Marauders is Carlos Jimenez, an international signing from the Dominican Republic who is one of the youngest players in the league at just 19-years-old.
In the early goings of the season, Jimenez has showed some great stuff, especially his breaking and off-speed stuff.
The righty features a mid-90s fastball that has been recorded as high as 97, along with a sweeping curveball and changeup, the latter of which has been his go-to pitch in almost any situation.
It has a late, sharp break arm side that when he throws against righties it almost looks like a slider until it cuts back in.
He has so much confidence in the pitch it’s already becoming his go-to in crucial situations.
In the first at-bat, Jimenez has runners on second and third with two-outs and throws four straight change ups to start things out. He finished off the batter with a breaking ball for a swinging strike three.
He follows that up with a similar pitch sequence to strikeout Manuel Sequera on just three pitches.
The final clip was against the Dunedin Blue Jays this past week. Facing Rainer Nunez to lead off the inning, Jimenez throws four changeups to start the at-bat, working the count to 2-2. He misses his spot on the last pitch, but he has slowed down Nunez so much with the change, he really didn’t have a chance against the fastball.
Watching Jimenez throw the change-up looked familiar, especially the late, hard break back to the arm side. While it doesn’t have the overall refinement when it comes to the break and control, Jimenez’s change-up shares a lot of familiarities with Milwaukee Brewer’s relief pitcher Devin Williams’ off-speed pitch.
There’s still work to be done on it, he’s only 19-years-old, but the places are there and it’s already potentially one of the best changeups in the Florida State League.
So, what’s next for Jimenez? Bradenton Manager Jonathan Johnston has a simple plan envisioned for the righty the rest of 2022.
“You’ve seen everything that he has right now,” Johnston told Pirates Prospects. “Learning how to pitch, and how to use his nasty stuff more effectively and efficiently, so that he can go deeper into games, is moving forward what his goal is.”
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Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.