Venezuelan slugger signs Minor League deal

Luis Jimenez, a 28-year-old first baseman who is leading the Venezuelan Winter League in home runs, has signed a Minor League contract with the Mariners.

Jimenez has bounced around the Minors with six different organizations and will not be given an invitation to the Mariners’ Major League camp, so this one is definitely not a blockbuster and was not officially announced by the club, since there is no camp invitation.

But Jimenez will receive a chance in Seattle’s Minor League system to show if he can continue the work being done with Lara of the Venezuelan League.

The 6-foot-4, 205-pound left hander is batting .312 with 12 home runs, 40 RBIs and a 1.024 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) in 186 at-bats over 59 games this winter.

Jiminez split time between Double-A and Triple-A ball in the Washington Nationals system in 2008, then played in Japan in ’09. He’s previously been with A’s, Orioles, Dodgers, Twins and Red Sox farm teams.

In other words, Jiminez is a longshot at his age to ever make the Majors, but he certainly has a little left-handed pop and he might be worth watching if you’re a Minor League buff. You just never know.

For what it’s worth, catcher Eliezer Alfonso — who played a little with the Mariners last season — is one of five players in the Venezuelan League tied for second in home runs behind Jimenez with nine.

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