Poor, poor Luis Jimenez, in any other organization he would likely be battling for a starting spot during Spring Training. In fact, in most other organizations, Jimenez would have already won the Opening Day 3B job, if not the job as a backup. His impressive .314 BA/.395 OBP/.429 SLG% is deserving of a spot on the regular season roster, but that just won't happen for Luis Jimenez with the Angels.
The 25-year old 3B prospect has never really gotten the chance to break through with the Angels and it looks like he'll never get the chance with Alberto Callaspo signed for the next two years until Kaleb Cowart is ready to take over the job. It's not that Jimenez is some slouch prospect however, he has shown impressive power in the minors.
The last two years Jimenez has tallied over 35 doubles and 15 homeruns per season which would theoretically give the Angels the power they've been craving from the hot corner. His ability to make consistent contact as a "free-swinger" is impressive in the idea that it complements his power while giving him a tool many free-swinging prospects his age don't possess. Unfortunately, his plate discipline is not nearly as up to snuff with his other tools, cracking the big leagues with poor strike zone judgment and difficulties working the count will put Jimenez in the hole far too often for him to successfully control his plate appearances. On top of that he would be taking away a fair amount of defensive value given by Alberto Callaspo, who was a top five 3B in terms of UZR in the 2012 season . While Jimenez may not necessarily get on base as much as Callaspo he will provide more power, giving the Angels another impact bat in the lineup (though 35+ doubles and 15+ HR's isn't a massive jump from Callaspo, though it is strong progress).
Jimenez has shown big improvements in his plate discipline this Spring Training, drawing a walk in a third of his plate appearances. If that can translate to a full season Jimenez would go from "solid impact bat" to "perpetual threat"; unfortunately the Angels aren't too interested in giving him the chance to prove this. Don't get me wrong, the Angels are very much justified in going with Callaspo over Jimenez, especially when you consider the fact that the team will need to be as defensively superior as possible in order to win important games. The offense of this team is strong enough already so keeping the defense in tip-top shape is the only way to prop up the susceptible pitching staff.
This just leaves us with one question: What in the world will the Angels do with Luis Jimenez?
The first option that must always be addressed is a trade. With news that Ryan Madson is facing yet another setback the Angels will be keeping an eye out for relief help from now on. Who's to say they can't find a team looking for help at third base? A young, moderately-high potential prospect like Jimenez could draw the attention of a team looking for a fresh injection of youth at the hot corner. Plus, look at the kind of spring this kid is having, I have no doubt in my mind there's a team or two who have a chub for Luis Jimenez. The Angels aren't hard-pressed to trade him now, they can stash him in the minors come the trade deadline, there's a market for everything at the trade deadline so it would make sense for the Angels to have a chip or two ready to go.
A more likely path, however, could be the Angels just holding on the guy for another year. Let him work out the last kinks in his game, then come next year the Angels will be better suited to find or trade partner for him. Better yet, the Angels might just be able to give him a shot at the big leagues sometime this year as an insurance policy when injuries start breaking out. Jimenez will definitely get playing time in some form next year, but I doubt it will be any more than just "go get your feet out there, kid" playing time. A possible scenario I can see occurring is Callaspo putting up such an underwhelming season that most of the confidence from the Angels brass shifting towards Jimenez, especially if he can put up another Spring Training as good as his spring this year. I don't want to get too caught up in the semantics of just how the Angels would transfer the starting job from Callaspo to Jimenez; I just see it as a good possibility.
All in all it seems as if Luis Jimenez will be stuck in minor league limbo for another season until he can get a legitimate spot at cracking the Angels roster. That is if he isn't traded, which looks more and more like a possibility considering Madson's setback. I doubt it's actually Jimenez who is looking like a more possible trade candidate; I just find the possibility of a trade in general as more and more likely. It would probably be Conger who gets traded anyway, it's pretty clear the Angels have lost all confidence in him, so shipping him off in the wake of the Chris Snyder signing seems more likely than shipping off Jimenez.
If we're still talking about Luis Jimenez in relation to the Angels at time next year it will probably be conversations of "it's looking more and more like he'll take Callaspo's job each day", and less like "Oh man Luis Jimenez totally killed the Angels today, can't believe they actually traded the guy".