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Perhaps the second time is a charm for minor-league right handed pitcher Dany Jimenez as he was selected for the second year in a row in the Rule 5 draft from the Toronto Blue Jays’ system.
Jimenez, who will be 27 this month, was selected in the Rule 5 draft last year by the San Francisco Giants and got into two games in late July, tossing 1 1/3 innings total. His first outing was a bit of a disaster as he allowed a hit, three walks and a run with one strikeout in just 1/3 of an inning but he did redeem himself by retiring all three batters he faced in his next outing.
That couldn’t save his job, though as Jimenez was designated for assignment and returned back to the Toronto Blue Jays on August 2 and he spent the remaining time in the Blue Jays’ organization but he was not added to the Alternate Training Site.
This year, Jimenez was selected by the Oakland A’s and was the final pick of the 2020 Rule 5 draft (major league portion), going in the second round and he was the only Blue Jay selected in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft.
Jimenez sits in the high 90s with his fastball and has some movement with a “potentially plus slider and low-80s changeup.” I saw this in action in spring training a couple of years ago and he impressed me as a guy who could have a major league career with the quality of arm he has.
While players selected in the major league portion need to be on the major league roster (or injured list) for the entire season or be offered back to their previous team, players selected in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft have no roster restrictions and do not need to be returned. The Blue Jays lost four players in the minor league phase: lefty Jake Fishman (to the Marlins), righty Zach Jackson (to the A’s), catcher Yorman Rodriguez (to the Padres) and righty Justin Dillon (to the Mets).
The Blue Jays also selected shortstop Sebastien Espino from the Mets.
Fishman, a solid lefty who was a 30th round pick after leading NCAA Division III in strikeouts in his junior year, made it to Double-A New Hampshire in 2019, posting a 3.45 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 62 2/3 innings, striking out 74 batters and walking just 18.
Jackson is probably the most MLB-ready player of the bunch, earning solid reviews at the Blue Jays’ alternate training site in 2020 after pitching in Buffalo in 2019, posting a 3.97 ERA and 1.32 WHIP, striking out 68 and walking 34 in 68 innings. Control has always been an issue for Jackson and 2019 represented his best season for throwing strikes although his strikeout rate did drop in conjunction with his walk rate.
Yorman Rodriguez, 23, is the youngest of the players selected from the Blue Jays’ roster, has only peaked in Class-A Lansing, hitting .344/.354/.490 in 22 games after an outstanding start with Vancouver (.369/.406/.510) in 2019. He can play catcher and first base and offers a solid bat to the Padres’ system.
Justin Dillon, 27, has thrown 22 2/3 innings in Buffalo in 2018 and was outstanding there, giving up just 10 hits and three runs in the small sample size, striking out 19 and walking just two. That said, he split 2019 between Dunedin and New Hampshire, throwing 67 innings in Advanced-A with a 3.90 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, striking out 61 and walking just 13 before moving up to Double-A New Hampshire and posting a 3.32 ERA and 1.19 WHIP with 42 strikeouts and 17 walks in 57 innings.
Sebastian Espino, the only player the Blue Jays selected, is a 20-year-old infielder from Bonao, Dominican Republic. He’s only played in three seasons, peaking in Advanced-Rookie ball in the Appalachian League in 2019. There, as a 19 year old, he hit .251/.303. 332 with seven doubles, a triple and two home runs in 187 at bats.
Baseball America ranked him as the #31 prospect for the Mets’ system in 2018. Baseball America liked his instincts and actions at shortstop but thought he didn’t have the “explosive range” that might be necessary while had a strong arm. He also was reported to have a “loose, easy swing” that “gradually became more dangerous,” as he grew stronger.
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