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Two months into last season, Jones was hitting just .277-4-31 in 264 at-bats for Class A Durham. So what prompted the Braves to promote him to Double-A Greenville? The answer is he simply has talent bursting out of his doubleknits. His ability feeds on challenge, his confidence on success. So how did the experiment go? All Jones did for the rest of the season was set the Southern League afire, establishing a Greenville record for triples in his limited stay. The phenomenal performance, especially for a player so young, solidified his status as the top position player prospect in baseball. Many onlookers believed he could have entered Atlanta's pennant race without missing a step. The No. 1 pick in the 1990 draft, Jones has the bat to become an offensive shortstop with a reputation between a Travis Fryman and a Cal Ripken. He could hit a consistent .300 with up to 25-30 home runs and can run enough to steal 20-25 bases. The fact that he's a switch-hitter with command of both swings only adds to the intrigue. Like Fryman and Ripken, Jones will end his minor league career with defensive numbers that don't testiy to his true ability. He has coordination in his hands and wrists when it comes to fielding the ball, but they don't follow his every command when the time comes to throw the ball. Most of his 32 errors last season came on throws, but that was down from 56 in 1991. Talk of moving Jones to second or third base has been abandoned because his instincts are expected to help him grow out of any defensive shortcomings. Forget any more time in Double-A. The Braves don't care if he hits .220 at Richmond for three months--they know he'll learn and use those lessons to punish major league pitchers.
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