Player: Connor Jones
Drafted by: San Diego Padres (No. 628 overall)
DOB: 10/10/1994 (Age: 18)
Height/Weight: 6'3"/205 lbs
School: Great Bridge HS (Chesapeake, Va.)
College Commitment: Virginia
Jones is the prototypical Virginia pitcher, so it makes sense that he is committed to the Cavaliers out of high school. Of course, that assumes he will end up on campus. He has said in interviews, such as the one reported by Hamptonroads.com, that he intends to go to school, which a lot of top prep players often do as a way to drive up their price tag or, in some cases, actually get the college experience.
As one of the top high school pitchers in this class, Jones should go at some point on Day 1 of the draft. He will have a bit of a wait, as he won't go until the end, but his athletic frame and solid arsenal and projection are going to make him very appealing to a lot of teams.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
Very solid 205-pound frame with athleticism and ability to field his position well; short, compact delivery that doesn't always take advantage of his height; three-quarter arm angle tends to prevent him from getting sharp plane on fastball, but natural movement helps pitch play up; clean mechanics with arm speed and good use of lower half.
Shows good present velocity in the 90-94 mph range; doesn't always get on top of the pitch, but arm angle and speed give it natural, heavy movement down in the zone; little projection left, so command and control will be key to maximizing heater; sink and velocity suggest plus potential in the future.
Best off-speed offering right now and in the future; shows decent feel for the pitch right now, but still gets slurvy a little too often; three-quarter delivery will help pitch retain shape when he gets more comfortable throwing it; given sharp break and velocity (79-81), slider should be above-average at peak.
Still learning feel for changeup; doesn't throw pitch for strikes enough, and rarely throws quality strikes; more of a show-me offering at present; has good late fade and could end up being average; will need this pitch to contain lefties in a lineup.
Despite some inconsistencies with off-speed stuff, has very good overall control for an 18-year-old; sinking fastball is huge asset already; if slider and changeup come along, ultimate ceiling could increase slightly; quiet delivery and arm action project for at least above-average control.
Still learning how to hit spots; fastball is predominant offering, but relies so much on the movement rather than locating; working on control of off-speed stuff, so command will not come until after that; feel for the fastball and ability to throw two potentially solid off-speed pitches, as well as solid delivery, project command will reach average level.
MLB Player Comparison: Right-handed Danny Hultzen
Projection: No. 3 starter on first-division team with possibility for a little more thanks to heavy sink on fastball.
MLB ETA: 2017
Chances of Signing: 55 percent
Jones is in an interesting spot. He has the talent to be a late-first-round selection or, at worst, a supplemental pick. With that comes a nice six-figure signing bonus and the luxury of getting into professional baseball, with the best coaching, right away.
However, Virginia is a school that is notorious for getting players—especially pitchers—to sign and stay on campus for three years before they are eligible for the draft again. There are obviously going to be exceptions, and I think there is a strong chance that will happen here.