Angel Jimenez’s baseball career began on the island diamonds in the Dominican Republic, eventually leading him to the Champion City.
Jimenez is the third foreign-born player in team history to wear a Champion City Kings jersey. The game isn’t much different than it is back in his hometown of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, the Kings outfielder said.
“It’s island weather, of course, but it’s the same sport,” Jimenez said. “It’s not much different. Everyone loves the sport and we all have dreams to make it professional someday.”
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In 20 games, Jimenez is hitting .290 with four doubles, two home runs and four RBIs for the Kings. At 18 years old, he’s the youngest player on the team.
Jimenez lived in the Dominican Republic until he was 15 years old. He moved to Florida to attend the Florida Air Academy with a few friends and later got a scholarship to play baseball at Alabama State University.
“It’s really changed my life,” Jimenez said. “Our parents thought that even though we were young, it would be a good move to come to the states and have a better education than at home and keep playing the same game we love.”
Jimenez hit .311 with 10 doubles and 22 RBIs at Alabama State last spring as a freshman.
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Alabama State University head coach Jose’ Vazquez knew Kings manager John Jeanes, sending both Jimenez and teammate Hunter May to Springfield for the summer.
“I’m just trying to enjoy the game as much as possible,” Jimenez said. “I don’t want to focus on the highs and lows, I just want to stay level. I know I have the talent and with God’s will everything will come through.”
He’s enjoyed his time in Springfield, which is “super different” from both Florida and Alabama, he said.
“I’ve really enjoyed getting to meet new people and see new places,” Jimenez said.
Jimenez’ brother — also named Angel Jimenez — played four seasons (2012-15) in the Seattle Mariners organization, appearing for both their Dominican Summer League and Arizona League teams as an infielder. He’s hoping to follow in his brothers’ footsteps and play professional baseball.
“It’s always a goal to be a professional in whatever I do,” Jimenez said. “I believe I have the talent. If you don’t believe that, then what are you doing?”
The immediate goal is to help the Kings win games, he said.
“I believe we have the talent,” Jimenez said. “We have to stay locked in every at-bat of every game and just follow our coaches’ lead. It’s been great. I’ve met a lot of characters on this team. We’re just trying to get some wins.”
Schedule: Through Thursday’s games, the Kings were 17-14 overall, 5.5 games back of first-place Danville (22-8). They’re currently in fourth-place behind Chillicothe (20-12) and Lafayette (18-13).
They’ll have a chance to make up some ground against East Division opponents in the next two weeks. The Kings have an off day on Saturday before hosting a two-game series against Lafayette on Sunday and Monday.
Champion City then hits the road for a four-game series at West Virginia July 11-14.
After an off day on July 15, the Kings will be home for five straight games, one against the Terre Haute Rex (July 16) and four more against Lafayette (July 17-20).
Walk-off: On July 4 at Carleton Davidson Stadium, the Kings trailed the first-place Dans 6-0, but fought all the way back to earn an 8-7 extra-innings walk-off victory.
In the 10th inning, Stephen Cullen was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and pinch runner Kawambee Moss advanced to third when Dans pitcher Ethan McCarty overthrew first pase on a pickoff attempt. The next two batters were intentionally walked and Aaron Huges was hit by a pitch to give the Kings the victory.
Bo Seccombe and Jesse Hall each hit two home runs in the win.