In the mid-1990’s, a young Dominican ball player by the name of D’Angelo Jimenez was rocketing his way up the ranks in the minor league system of the New York Yankees. Ranked as high as fifth in the Gulf Coast League rankings of the best young prospects when he was a rookie in 1995, and as high as 7th in Triple-A, Jimenez was touted as one of the future’s best prospects.
In his second season at Triple-A Columbus, Jimenez hit 15 homers, drove in 88 and hit .327 during the 1999 campaign. That great surge earned Jimenez a call up to the Bronx where he became an official member of the 1999 World Series Champions.
“It was good. I was 21 years-old, I put up good numbers in triple-A and to be part of that team in ’99 was a terrific experience,” Jimenez said. “All the memories are good. I have a World Series ring at my house. A lot of people play for that reason and I have one.”
Jimenez grew up with baseball on the streets of native Dominican Republic, playing stickball with his friends. It was not until he was a teenager that he began thinking about making a career out of his favorite sport.
“When I was a child, baseball was a hobby, I was into skateboarding, riding bikes, mortocycles,” said Jimenez. ”God gave me ability to play baseball. Since I was 14, people saw me, scouts saw me. They opened my eyes that baseball would be my career.”
While Jimenez’s Yankee career was short-lived, Jimenez has carved out a steady baseball career.
Fancying himself as a blue-blooded baseball man, Jimenez has seen it all. From small minor league parks in the middle of the country, to the bright lights of both National League and American League ballparks, to baseball in Mexico and Latin America, Jimenez has traveled and done it all.
And he has no plans of slowing down.
After spending the 2000 and 2001 seasons in the Yankees minor league system again, Jimenez was traded to the San Diego Padres and spent the next three seasons in the majors with the Padres, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox. Jimenez’s best season came in 2004, when he hit .270 with 12 homers and 67 in 152 games with the Reds back in 2004.
However, in 2005, he was traded once again, and over the next three seasons, he bounced around the big leagues with three different clubs.
“It is a lot of frustration when you get traded and get sent back to the minors,” said Newark’s third baseman. ”You have to push along and keep trying. Mentally, you have to be strong and prepared and focused to a different team. You are still in the eyes of other people. I love being in the line-up every day, and I still enjoy it.
“I went to San Diego, White Sox, Texas Oakland, and the Nationals. When you make it to the majors you have to make adjustments everywhere you go, from the people to the city.”
In 2009, Jimenez found himself in Newark, playing for the Bears near his current home, West New York, N.J.. While Jimenez’s first stint in Brick City was short, he had a lasting impact on that team, hitting .326 in 20 games.
Jimenez’s returned to the Bears this season on August 3. And since his return to Newark, Jimenez has once again established himself as one of the team’s top hitters.
In 30 games, the switch hitter is batting .287 with four home runs and 18 RBI. His bat heated up at a time when the Bears needed it the most, with veteran Daryle Ward on the shelf with lingering injuries, and star center fielder Quentin Davis retiring in August.
On August 22, Jimenez cracked a 3-run homer against Worcester to pave the way to a 4-2 Bears win. Then, on August 28, Jimenez was responsible for a bases clearing single to get the Bears even at nine, and eventually scored the go-ahead run in the Bears 11-9 victory, helping Newark overcome a seven-run deficit and defeat the New Jersey Jackals.
As for the future, Jimenez is not thinking about it too much. He loves baseball, and wants to keep playing even if it means hooking up with another club during winter ball. He even admits that he still plays in the streets and small fields of the Dominican whenever he returns to his native land. His ultimate goal is to get back to the major leagues, but if he can return to Newark in 2013 he is all for it.
“I would love to come back. Let’s wait for next year and see what we have.”