|Glove of Luis "the Igniter" Jimenez after it made an error|
Panamanian by birth, Luis Bartolo Jimenez (LBJ anyone??) does not come without a downside. After doing a bit of sleuthing, it seems that Mr. Jimenez has some, shall we say, quirks. Although I cannot find a picture of him online, he supposedly has a face tattoo that makes Mike Tyson's look like a minor facial blemish. He wears bright pink batting gloves and cleats, and has a braided ponytail that hangs just above waist-level. I know this is all aesthetic, but still, come on. You know anyone else like that?
Ranked very low in the MLB scouting reports, Jimenez does not seem interested at all in changing his strange ways. He has moved between a few (two that I know of) other colleges and junior colleges always with the same result - great stats and a short tenure.
In a matter of three years, this 20 year old phenom has put up some ungodly numbers at the plate but has ultimately driven his coaches over the edge. In trading a few emails with a couple of these poor souls, it seems that he barely speaks unless asked a direct question and even then, only in Spanish. What is even more puzzling though, is the fact that if you TEXT him (number unknown or believe me, I would have tried!) he will answer immediately and in flawless English. Go figure.
Luis also has some baseball "issues" that need to be either accepted, or dealt with in a swift manner. Example...the one time he struck out in his 55 at bats (looking), he walked away from the plate and sat with his bat for the remainder of the game. Afterwards, he made his way to a local cemetery and buried it next to several others that have let him down over the years. Being 6'6" and 245 pounds of blue, twisted steel, no one has yet been able to stand in the way of this bizarre behavior.
Fielding brings with it a similar ritual. Any glove that causes him an error - he plays shortstop/2B - receives a similar fate in that it is set aside (mid-inning, if need be) and unceremoniously burned right after the game (see attached photo). Numerous team/league suspensions and warnings have had little effect on this over the years.
On the basepaths, look out, because this guy puts Cincinnati Reds prospect Billy Hamilton to shame. Running like a gazelle on speed, Jimenez has 45, count 'em 45, stolen bases so far this year. As long as there is an open base ahead of him (including home), he's going. Even though catchers have the book on him, he has only been caught once all year and in true character, he calmly detached the base from the playing field and walked it back to the dugout. Too cool!
On top of all this, he continues to lobby the league to let him wear a catcher's mitt while he is playing the middle infield. It seems he did this all through his early minor baseball career but once he hit serious baseball, the rules got in the way.
Lastly, information is very scarce for such a "colourful" individual. The couple of coaches I have emailed, say he is still worth a shot. He has been described as a "loyal teammate" and an "incredible talent". But come on, like him or not, believe in him or not, how EXCELLENT would it be to have a guy like this in a conservative city like Victoria (for the one week until he gets the boot!)?
Some dilemma, eh? Well, I for one say that he is worth the risk, so box up this Tasmanian Devil and send him to the RAP! Meanwhile, we will try and get some more specifics on any official announcement and post back soon.