Taylor Jones Could Be Next In Line
In 2017, Mickey Storey welcomed an imposing addition to his high Class A Buies Creek roster.
Taylor Jones walked into the manager’s office, fit his 6-foot-7 frame into a chair and met with Storey, who had studied up on his new prospect.
Jones played both basketball and baseball in high school. For two seasons at Gonzaga, Jones was a righthanded pitcher, predicating his arsenal on a cutting two-seam fastball that few could pick up from his long frame.
As a junior and senior, Jones transitioned to a position player only. His athleticism is apparent and footwork impressive at first base.
"Man, there’s not much you don’t really do,” Storey told him. "You think you could play third?”
"Lo and behold two years later, I have him again and we attempted it.”
With Storey at the helm in Triple-A Round Rock, Jones joined the recent wave of defensive experimentation in the Astros' system. He started 14 games at third base and 27 more in left field.
Outfielders Myles Straw (shortstop) and Kyle Tucker (first base) each were exposed to infield positions last year, too, while third baseman Abraham Toro continues to move around the diamond. All three have debuted in the major leagues in the last two seasons.
The 26-year-old Jones appears primed to follow. Swing adjustments at the end of 2018 prompted a breakout 2019, a season in which the righthanded batter slugged .501 at Triple-A. He eliminated any extra movement in his swing setup, allowing a more level swing and quicker pitch recognition.
With Yuli Gurriel entering his final season of club control and two established first base prospects no longer in the organization—Seth Beer and AJ Reed—Jones could be next in line for a callup as early as this season.
His most natural position is first base, but the Astros can feel comfortable that Jones can move around if asked.
"Lateral movement is a big key," Jones said. "I’m a big guy, so I have to try to maximize the opportunity to get better at movement side to side. I think I accomplished that a little bit better—my movements are a little bit cleaner.
"I’m glad I’m getting the opportunity to move around"
— Rogelio Armenteros was shut down early in spring training after reporting elbow and shoulder soreness. The 26-year-old righthander remained in camp and was not thought to require any surgery.
— Second-round pick Grae Kessinger had been a frequent callup from minor league camp in Grapefruit League games. The shortstop ranks as the organization’s No. 10 prospect and was being exposed to third base.