We've spent a lot of time lately, as we do every spring, getting to know the youngsters in the White Sox organization. Lost in that mix is one 30 year-old that most of us don't know much about: Hector Gimenez, who is fully expected to break camp with the major league club as the backup catcher. So, here's a crash course …
Since being signed as an amateur free agent by the Houston Astros in the summer of 1999, the Venezuelan switch-hitter has only been in the big leagues for three very short stints. While he made his debut at the age of 23 for the Astros in 2006, he only had 2 at bats and didn't get called back up until he was with the Dodgers in 2011. There, he had just 7 at bats, and late last year for the White Sox he did pretty well, collecting 5 hits in just 11 at-bats.
So, why has Gimenez never gotten a shot? Why has he been in and out of 5 different organizations? To put it simply, he's just been very good at being consistently mediocre – not much more, not much less. That and a few tough injuries.
Through 10 minor league seasons, Gimenez has hit .264 with 99 home runs. And those numbers are indeed a pretty good representation of his entire career, outside of 2008 (which was abysmal) and 2010, when he hit .305 with 16 home runs and 72 RBI's through just 94 games.
So the reason he's getting this chance obviously isn't because of the numbers, as they really just don't do too much for you. It's because of his consistency, reliability, and predictable nature that you're going to see Gimenez on the south side of Chicago this year.
Although he's only 5'10 (compared to Tyler Flowers 6'4 stature), Gimenez is solid behind the plate and has thrown out 36% of attempted base stealers throughout his time in the minors. He actually threw out better than 43% last year for AAA Charlotte. For comparison's sake, AJ Pierzynski has only thrown out 24% throughout his illustrious career.
He also has appeared at 1B, 3B, and in LF – so there's a bit of versatility if the team is ever faced with a desperate situation.
In MLB.com beat writer and friend to the site Scott Merkin's feature report on Gimenez, White Sox bench coach Mark Parent, a former MLB catcher, described Hector as 'low maintenance' in all aspects of the game.
The best way to think about it is that Gimenez will serve as a 'deep breath' for us Sox fans who watch each and every game throughout the season.
With Tyler Flowers' potential to be an erratic hitter who can be extremely good at times and extremely bad at others, it's nice that we'll have a 'low maintenance' backup that we won't ever have to 'worry' much about, if you will.
He'll keep the pitchers calm, put the bat on the ball, and throw out runners … which in my mind, is all you can ask for out of 30 year-old backing up a youngster in his make-or-break season.