Image credit: Nolan Jones (Photo by Brian Westerholt/Four Seam)
While the game is away, Baseball America is digging into its video database and asking scouts around the game to analyze what they see from some of the sport’s best prospects. Today’s subject is Indians infielder Nolan Jones.
Miss our first two installments? Here they are:
Jones split 2019 between high Class A Lynchburg and Double-A Akron with a stop at the Futures Game mixed in for good measure. In the regular season, Jones, 21, hit .272/.409/.442 with 15 home runs. He continued his season in the Arizona Fall League.
Here’s what our scout had to say about Jones.
SCOUT: From the day he stepped into pro ball, Jones had an impressive approach at the plate. He seems like a real student of the game in the box.
Jones follows pitch sequences well and sits on pitches he can handle. He makes the most of his opportunities in the box with a plus approach. He shows plus raw power in BP but really only gets to his power on mistakes in the game. Again, has shown the ability to really capitalize on his chances and doesn’t miss what he shouldn’t miss.
There is some length to the swing and I have seen him get beat by velocity on the inner half of the plate. You can’t let him get his arms extended in the zone and he doesn’t really chase outside of the zone much at all, so it’s a small window where you can get him out.
My biggest concern is that guys in the big leagues who can really command their fastballs inside might give him some trouble. He is going to have to kill righthanders to cover up the fact he doesn’t like lefthanders much at all. He is still young and does compete against lefties but clearly is much better against righthanders.
Watching him live, he takes a much more confident, commanded at-bat against righthanders than lefthanders. It’s night and day at times in the ballpark, especially against lefties who have some velocity and a sharp slider. It’s more a rhythm-based, timing swing than pure bat speed but again, he is a smart hitter and can time up pitches well. You are going to have to beat him in the zone and he isn’t going to get himself out.
This guy can really throw the baseball. It’s a double-plus arm when he needs it from third base. His feet are a little heavy and he will be challenged ranging side to side. He is a better runner than he is a mover in small spaces and could see him moving out to right field and profiling as a solid everyday player there. His hands are solid and he makes the routine play well. Biggest concern for me is the lateral range at third base.
Everything else checks all the boxes there. No reason to think if the first step quickness and lateral range isn’t enough at the big league level at 3B, he can’t run around the outfield with plenty of arm to be a weapon in RF.
The kid seems to love baseball and you can see his baseball IQ immediately just by how he handles at-bats and works counts. There are no glaring weaknesses in his game, just some minor concerns on the range at third base, the struggles vs. lefthanders and the hole vs. velocity, especially inside. I love his approach to the game and he is a worker and think that his makeup and baseball smarts will give him every chance to reach his ceiling.
Overall, I see this guy as a solid-type everyday player who will do his damage vs. righthanders and have to compete on the days they face a lefty. If he stays at third base, his defense is always going to be average at best with the limited range.