Jimenez soaks up experience in Caribbean Series
HERMOSILLO, Mexico -- Angels third-base prospect Luis Jimenez didn't exactly set the world on fire during the Dominican Republic's winter league regular season, batting .231 with a .671 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). But in the playoffs, he did, with a .365 average and three homers in 52 at-bats.
Now, thanks in large part to that, he's here, taking in his first Caribbean Series experience with a Leones del Escogido team that's looking to win its second straight title and third in the last four years.
"This is awesome," Jimenez said in Spanish. "It's your country, you feel happy to play here, and you get something out of this, too. There are a lot of veterans here that you can learn from, which I like a lot."
Jimenez is essentially a backup third baseman in this Series, with 38-year-old Fernando Tatis -- whose last season in the Majors came in 2010 -- the starter. Tatis is just one of several big-name players on an Escogido club that, on paper, is the best in this tournament. And for advice, the 25-year-old Jimenez can also pick the brains of fellow infielders Miguel Tejada, Hanley Ramirez and Julio Lugo.
One subject he's interested in of late: the grind.
Jimenez played his first season of Triple-A last year, impressing with a .309 batting average, 16 homers, 85 RBIs and 17 steals. And this year, with the Angels stacked on the Major League side and looking for more versatility out of their backup infielder, he looks primed to spend his eighth pro season playing there again.
He also doesn't have a clear path to the big leagues. The Angels recently agreed to terms on a two-year deal with starting third baseman Alberto Callaspo, and when his deal expires, the prevailing thought is that Kaleb Cowart -- rated the No. 1 prospect in the Angels' system last year and 67th overall in 2013 by MLB.com -- will take over.
"I'm not going to say that's disappointing, because you have to understand the team they have in Anaheim," Jimenez, ranked ninth in the Angels' system, said. "It's a very good team, and they have a lot of good ballplayers. I'm going to do my job, the same job everyone has to do, and leave it in their hands. They'll decide what to do with me."