We continue our prospect profile series going as we are going to be looking at Detroit Tigers prospect JaCoby Jones. Jones is an interesting piece for the Tigers, who acquired him at last year’s trade deadline from the Pittsburgh Pirates for Joakim Soria. Jones impressed in the Arizona Fall League before being suspended for violating the MLB’s joint drug prevention program, which was his second offense. He will be looking to bounce back in 2016 and possibly make the big league roster this spring.
Jones was drafted by the Houston Astros in 2010 but decided to go back to school, spending three seasons as the starting second baseman for Louisiana State University (LSU). The Pirates drafted him as an outfielder in 2013 and converted him to a shortstop.
Jones has shown outstanding bat speed and his hands are extremely quick through the ball. However, his swing is still very aggressive. It’s not hard to see Jones is hacking for the fences when he’s at the plate. He can turn on inside pitches as well as push outside pitches to the opposite field and do as extremely well. A knee injury in his rookie year has cost him time in his development, but it doesn’t look like he’s missed a step. He hit .250 in 136 at-bats with the Tigers’ Double A affiliate, the Erie Sea Wolves, and had in 2014 had 23 HR and 70 RBI for Class A West Virginia Power.
On defense, Jones looks a bit awkward, like he’s not sure of himself out there. His speed is a bit off-putting. He has the speed and ability to have above average range, but his reactions are off. He does have the ability to play the outfield positions and do so very well. If shortstop doesn’t work for him, look for the Tigers to play him in center field. The team really doesn’t have a for sure starter out in center, their options being Cameron Maybin and Anthony Gose. Jones is also a very good basestealer. He stole 25 bases last season, 10 with Erie. He can run from home plate to first base in 4.1 seconds! Imagine how fast he could go all the way around the diamond.
Jones is a guy with the ability to hit and hit for power. His speed is his second prominent tool. He could be one of those 40 HR/40 SB guys in the bigs if he can keep it up. His defense at short may cause the Tigers to hesitate putting him there, so center field may be his best option.
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