- Full name James Steven Jones
- Born 09/24/1988 in Brooklyn, NY
- Profile Ht.: 6'3" / Wt.: 205 / Bats: L / Throws: L
- School Long Island
- Debut 04/18/2014
Drafted in the 4th round (113th overall) by the Seattle Mariners in 2009 (signed for $267,300).
View Draft ReportAfter a standout fall, Jones entered the season as a potential top-two-rounds pick as a lefthander, but he struggled mightily in the Northeast Conference, going 1-9, 7.40. He still earned all-conference honors as an outfielder/first baseman, batting .364/.453/.618 with nine homers, 32 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in 23 tries. Most scouts still prefer Jones as a pitcher, but some consider him a third- to fourth-round talent as a corner outfielder. A gifted athlete with a lanky 6-foot-3, 185-pound frame, Jones garners physical comparisons to Mike Cameron and Adam Jones. He has quick hands and projects to hit for power down the road, and he shows good pitch recognition and plate discipline. He also has good instincts in the outfield. Jones' athleticism also makes him intriguing as a pitcher, despite his poor numbers. Multiple scouts have said Jones has one of the quickest arms they have ever seen, and everyone agrees that his arm action is exceptionally clean and loose, though his mechanics need plenty of work, as he tends to overstride, causing his stuff to flatten out. Jones ran his fastball up to 94-95 in the fall but pitched mostly in the 88-93 range this spring, usually sitting around 91. He throws a curveball and a slider, and both rate as below-average pitches, though he flashes an average breaking ball every once in a while. The consensus is that he'd be better off scrapping the curveball and concentrating on developing the slider. Jones tends to slow down his delivery on his changeup, but he does have some feel for the pitch. Scouts unanimously laud Jones for his makeup; he works hard both on and off the field and is widely regarded as a great person. Few players in this draft are as intriguing as Jones, but he's very much a boom-or-bust prospect. He figures to be drafted in the third to fifth round, more likely as a pitcher.
Organization Prospect Rankings
A draft prospect as both a pitcher and hitter in college, Jones signed for $267,300 after a poor junior season in 2009 at Long Island dropped his stock on the mound. He still looks the part more than he produces, but he did enough to earn a spot on the 40-man roster in November. Jones has good raw power, but a stiff, lefthanded swing leads to more soft contact than over-the-fence power. He does offer plus speed, having hit 10 triples with Double-A Jackson in 2013 to lead the Southern League, and has learned the short game, improving his basestealing and bunting ability. Jones' arm has backed up since college, when he threw 94-95 mph off the mound, and he missed time in August with a triceps injury. He still has enough arm to play right field and played all three spots in 2013. Jones has an infectious, positive personality that managers want in a reserve and fits the fourth outfielder profile well. He should progress to Triple-A Tacoma in 2014.
Because he had a fastball he could dial up to 95 mph, many teams preferred Jones as a lefthanded pitcher when he played both ways at Long Island. The Mariners liked him better as a position player and have kept him in the outfield since drafting him in the fourth round in 2009. After a solid pro debut, he got out of the gate slowly in low Class A last year, batting .205/.319/.364 in the first half. To his credit, he never let his struggles get in his head and got better as the season wore on. Following the all-star break, he hit .321/.387/.487. Jones works pitchers and has some snap in his loose swing, but he doesn't recognize breaking balls well and swings through a lot of pitches. His stride is long and he often gets out on his front foot too early. The Mariners will be patient with him as a hitter, knowing he's more raw than most college position players because he was a two-way player from the Northeast. Jones has a wiry build with good athleticism. He plays right field with ease, showing well-above-average arm strength. His fringe-average speed precludes him from playing center field, so he'll have to show he can hit enough to be an everyday player on an outfield corner. If not, he'll always have the fallback option of returning to the mound. Jones will play in high Class A this year.
The Mariners defied scouting convention in preferring Jones as a position player. It's rare that a club walks away from low-90s velocity from the left side, but Jones went just 1-9, 7.40 in the second-tier Northeast Conference in 2009. Seattle signed him as a fourth-round pick for $267,300 and installed him as a right fielder at short-season Everett, where observers lauded the quality of his at-bats. Jones recognizes breaking balls, seldom chases pitches out of the zone and generates above-average bat speed with quick hands and wrists. He added more than 50 pounds to his lanky, long-limbed frame in three years at Long Island, and he still has projection remaining in his upper body. His high, tapered waist masks a strong lower half. Jones can drive the ball to all fields and is still growing into his power, which likely will grade as average when all's said and done. He's also a tick above-average runner who reads the ball well off the bat and covers more than enough ground in right. Jones touched 95 mph off the mound in college, and his quick, accurate arm rates as plus-plus in the outfield. He also has experience playing first base. Evaluators unanimously credit him with outstanding makeup. Given time to develop, Jones could develop into a solid regular in right field, though he'll always have pitching in his back pocket if needed.
Minor League Top Prospects
Though he added more than 50 pounds of weight during his college career at Long Island, Jones still sports a slender, 6-foot-4 frame with long arms and legs. He played both ways for the Blackbirds and many teams liked him more as a pitcher after he touched 95 mph with his fastball last fall. The Mariners, who made him a fourth-round pick, preferred him as a position player. Jones recognizes breaking balls well, puts together good at-bats and has quick hands that lead to above-average bat speed. An aggressive hitter, he has raw power to all fields and is just starting to tap into it. Though he's athletic, his speed is average at best and he's not a basestealing threat. Jones played mostly right field for Everett and showed off his arm strength by recording six assists in 33 games.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Outfield Arm in the Seattle Mariners in 2013
- Rated Best Outfield Arm in the Seattle Mariners in 2010