- Full name Jonathan Henry Jay
- Born 03/15/1985 in Miami, FL
- Profile Ht.: 5'11" / Wt.: 200 / Bats: L / Throws: L
- School Miami (FL)
- Debut 04/26/2010
Drafted in the 2nd round (74th overall) by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006 (signed for $480,000).
View Draft ReportIn a weak college outfield crop, Jay was a second-team preseason All-American after holding down the leadoff spot for Team USA in the summer of 2005. He's a classic tweener outfielder who doesn't profile as an everyday player on a championship club. He posted a .408 average as a sophomore at Miami, and has a patient, mature approach to hitting, but his range is just average in center field and he doesn't hit for power. He had 11 home runs in 503 career at-bats. His set-up and swing are unorthodox. He has a wide stance and pumps his hands as a trigger. He makes consistent contact when pitches are down in the zone and uses the whole field, but lacks leverage and loft. He's a 50 runner on the 20-80 scale, although his speed plays up on the basepaths. He's got good feel for the game, makes good reads and takes good routes in the outfield. His arm is accurate but his throws lack carry.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Back when Jay was a high-average hitter for Miami, some scouts winced at the trigger he used to set up and then ignite his swing. Rather than apologize for the bobbing hands and quick loop that started his stroke, he gave it a nickname: "helicopter hands." Jay hit .308 in his first three seasons in pro ball, but when he started slowly in 2009, he tried to ground his bat waggle. He hit .324 over the final two months, joined the 40-man roster and then headed to the Venezeulan League to continue fine-tuning his swing. Jay is built to hit for average. He makes consistent contact with a level, slashing swing and shows the ability to guide line drives to the outfield. He doesn't provide much power, and while he has good speed he doesn't steal many bases. He puts the bat on the ball so easily that he doesn't get many walks, either. Jay profiles as an extra outfielder who's capable of playing left, center or right with good range and a fringy arm. Jay could break into the majors as a lefthanded-hitting fourth outfielder, just like Skip Schumaker did. Schumaker became a regular by playing multiple positions and hitting .300, and Jay has the same upside.
After losing 2007 to a string of injuries--two trips to the disabled list for a shoulder injury and one for wrist soreness--Jay recovered and picked up where he left off in 2006, when he was healthy and had the most impressive debut of the anyone in the Cardinals' draft class. The lefthanded-hitting outfielder has an exceptional command of the strike zone and a knack for slashing, driving and even guiding base hits. His swing is built to win a batting title, and early concerns it wouldn't translate at higher levels were allayed by his performance at Triple-A. Jay returned to Double-A to start 2008 but quickly showed he was ready to get back on the fast track, with 114 hits in 96 games, including 11 homers. He has a distinctive hand pump and bat waggle as his timing mechanisms, and while they turn off some scouts, they work for him. What doesn't work for him is the depth chart. Speedy enough to steal a base and cover ample ground in center field, with an average arm, he's hidden behind Rick Ankiel and Colby Rasmus at center and doesn't have the pop for the corners. He'll return to Triple-A to start 2009, where he'll continue to ripen in case there's an opening in St. Louis or elsewhere. His future playing time will be dictated by how high an average he gets with that bat waggle.
Jay had the best debut among the Cardinals' 2006 draft picks, hitting .342 in low Class A, to earn a jump to Double-A for his first full season. But it became a lost year because of three trips to the disabled list, two for a shoulder injury and one for wrist pain, and he never got untracked at the plate. After watching him in his pro debut, some St. Louis coaches predicted Jay would win a major league batting title. He has a balanced, line-drive stroke and generally controls the strike zone well. He's a solid center fielder with a decent arm, and he runs well enough to steal a few bases. Jay doesn't have the power to profile as a corner outfielder, which is a problem with Colby Rasmus ahead of him. Scouts from other organizations focus on Jay's lack of a standout tool more than his lack of a glaring weakness. They question his quirky hand pumps and bat waggles at the plate and wonder whether he'll hit at the upper levels. Jay likely will return to Double-A. He'll have to produce in all facets of the game to start for the Cardinals, because he can't approach the power of big league starters Rick Ankiel and Chris Duncan.
Jay consistently produced as a collegian for both Miami and Team USA, but many teams saw him as a tweener who didn't profile as a regular. As a result, the Cardinals were able to land him in the second round of the 2006 draft and sign him for $480,000. He had a spectacular pro debut, batting .342 in low Class A. Jay has an unorthodox approach but he consistently shows the ability to hit pitches in all parts of the zone. His game is built around hitting line drives and making the most of his solid-average speed. Some Cardinals coaches already are predicting that he'll win a major league batting title. While he doesn't have a standout tool, he's pretty solid across the board. He's a capable center fielder with an accurate arm. He pumps his hands and uses a wide stance at the plate, quirky habits that scared off some scouts but haven't hurt him yet. He does have some length to his swing. He doesn't hit for much power, so he'll have to stay in center field to profile as a regular. It's possible he'll leapfrog Colby Rasmus and beat him to the majors. They also could wind up playing alongside each other in the Springfield outfield this season.
Minor League Top Prospects
The 2008 season marked a second chance at the Texas League for Jay, who injured his shoulder sliding into third base in May 2007 and never returned to the Springfield lineup. He took over from Colby Rasmus in center field for Springfield this year and while he didn't show Rasmus' power, he offered a blend of several tools. Though Jay has an odd approach, wobbling his bat over his left shoulder and taking a while to get his swing started, it works for him. He has fast hands that get the bat through the zone quickly, and he began turning on inside fastballs before he was promoted to Triple-A in late July. His speed, center-field defense and arm are all decent to average. With Rick Ankiel and Rasmus ahead of him, Jay probably will have to play on an outfield corner for St. Louis, and his power doesn't profile well there.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Hitter for Average in the St. Louis Cardinals in 2010
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the St. Louis Cardinals in 2007