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Why Ubaldo Jimenez Will Breakout This Season

KyleCorrespondent IApril 18, 2009

CHICAGO - APRIL 13: Starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez #38 of the Colorado Rockies throws the ball against the Chicago Cubs during the Opening Day game on April 13, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Ubaldo Jimenez, 25, born in the Dominican Republic, is one of the Rockies' best prospects.  Though he may not be a rookie, he's young, and has got some of the filthiest, raw stuff in the majors.

That is...if he can learn to control it.

Jimenez, the second starter on the Rockies' pitching rotation, is in his third year in the majors, despite his young age. He's right-handed, and is 6'4".  He was born in the Dominican Republic and throws with his right hand.

Last year, Jimenez posted a very quiet 3.99 ERA.  He had one complete game, and won the same amount of games than he lost, with 12.  However, he had 172 strikeouts in 198.2 innings, and didn't miss a single start.

Jimenez, who handed out 103 free bases, pitched his first entire season last year.

Ubaldo Jimenez, in the 2007 and most of 2008 season, used to throw his fastball as hard as he could.  However, after having a talk with pitching coach Bob Apodaca, Jimenez changed his outlook on pitching. 

On some summer days, he'd hit 100 mph on the gun.  Along with his slider that sharply breaks toward the end, he could be unhittable some days, as he took a no-no into the seventh in the 2007 season. 

His two-seam fastball is like his four-seamer, but the two-seam will tail in toward righties at the end.  Along with a change up that also breaks toward the end, this combination of pitches induces a ton of ground balls for Jimenez.

In the 2008 offseason, Jimenez signed a four-year, $10 million dollar deal, with club options in 2013 and 2014.

On paper, Jimenez looks very impressive. With pitches ranging from 84-99 mph, and such a big frame, it looked as if Jimenez would shine in the majors.  He's been given comparison to the likes of Randy Johnson and "King" Felix Hernandez.

But one thing Jimenez has been struggling with is his placement of pitches. 

However, thus far in 2009, Jimenez has been quite impressive.  His 1-1 record, along with a 2.53 ERA and 11 strikeouts have been what the Rockies needed.

In his first game of the year, Jimenez struggled with his location.  He lasted just 3.2 innings, and walked six Diamondbacks.  He allowed three earned runs, and pitched 104 pitches before being pulled.

In his second game of the year, against the Cubs, Jimenez pitched seven innings, struck out eight, and and posted no earned runs on just four hits. 

Talking with Apodaca has really helped Jimenez.  Watching him, one can tell that he's not just trying to hurl the ball as hard as he can, but instead he's trying to pitch with location.  His four-seam fastball is starting to drop at the end, which is contributing even more to ground ball outs. 

With most games involving bats in Colorado, it's nice to see when a pitcher can shut the opposition down. Something I believe Jimenez will be getting used to.

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