Player: JaCoby Jones
Drafted by: Pittsburgh Pirates
DOB: 5/10/1992 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 6’3”/200 lbs
School: Louisiana State
Previously Drafted: 2010: Houston Astros (19th round)
Even though JaCoby Jones was a well-known commodity as a high school senior in 2009, his all-around rawness and strong college commitment caused him to fall to the Astros in the 19th round of the draft. As expected, Jones chose to attend Louisiana State rather than sign, where he quickly emerged as one of the top freshmen in the country. Appearing in 56 games, he batted .338/.395/.467 with 16 extra-base hits (four home runs), 13 stolen bases and 37/12 K/BB.
Jones’ follow-up campaign in 2012 was highly scrutinized by scouts, which only amplified his season-long struggles. Overall, he finished the season batting .253/.308/.363 with 18 extra-base hits and 11 stolen bases, and fanned 41 times in 176 at-bats. And although he didn’t open eyes in the Cape Cod League last summer as many thought he would, the right-handed hitter still improved his draft stock by batting .266 with five home runs. He also showcased his robust raw power in the league’s home run derby, which he won after launching seven towering shots.
Although there’s still a considerable amount of inconsistency, Jones’ approach and secondary skills noticeably improved over the course of the 2013 season. Through 55 games, he batted .283/.382/.417 with 15 extra-base hits (five home runs), 12 stolen bases and 42/28 K/BB.
While he’s flashed first-round ability at times in each of the last three seasons, Jones’ baseball skills have simply never caught up. As a result, he’s arguably the most intriguing and risky position prospect in this year’s class. It’s going to take him significantly longer than most of his peers to develop, but the final product could be a power-speed monster.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
Plus bat speed with lightning-quick wrist action; a lot of pre-pitch hand movement into load; has a tendency to land on front heel and lunge into stride; noticeably fights casting his hands at times; too many components to his swing hinders barrel control; struggles to adjust to average secondary pitches; won’t draw walks consistently until pitch recognition improves; always takes aggressive hacks; understands how to get off his backside, though it doesn’t always look pretty; makes crisp, loud contact; facet of his game with the most room for improvement.
Packed with strength at 6’3”, 207 pounds; easy plus power potential; explodes through the baseball and drives it with backspin carry; batting practice monster; will hit his share of tape-measure bombs at the next level; outstanding bat speed and extension after contact creates considerable lift.
Possesses elite athleticism with plus speed that’s obvious on both sides of the ball; fast and explosive enough to be a high-level base stealer at the next level—provided that he gets on base; capable of playing any position on the field.
He’ll be a plus defender regardless of position due to the athleticism; natural infielder with above-average range and smooth actions; potential second baseman at the next level, and third base is a possibility; speed and range also project favorably in center field; once again, it will all come down to the development of his bat.
Above-average-to-plus arm strength; gets good carry on his throws from the outfield; shorter arm stroke and quicker release as an infielder.
MLB Player Comparison: Adam Jones
Projection: Ceiling of an occasional All-Star and 30-30 candidate if all comes together; floor of a guy who possibly doesn’t make it to Double-A; very high risk.
MLB ETA: 2017
Chances of Signing: 75 percent