Tuesday, July 2, 2013

JaCoby Jones...Potential v Production

LSU junior JaCoby Jones was selected by the Pirates with the 87th pick in the 3rd round, right about where his draft projection fell. He agreed to terms last week and officially signed yesterday for $612K, exactly slot value. Jones is 21, a 6'3" 200 lb. bundle of physical tools out of Richton, Mississippi. The Pirates list him as a CF though he played 2B for most of his career, and some speculate that he may have a future at the hot corner.

His Richton HS career was legendary. He batted .503 as a senior wth nine homers, 46 RBI and 42 stolen bases, .517 as a junior with seven homers, 40 RBI and 30 steals, .520 as a sophomore with eight homers, 33 RBI and 33 steals and .482 as a freshman with six homers, 30 RBI and 27 steals, ending his career as the state's all-time hit leader.

Jones was a four-time All-State selection, named to the 2009 AFLAC and Under Armor All America teams, and in 2010 he was honored with Wendy's High School Heisman in Mississippi and chosen as the Mississippi High School Player of the Year, Louisville Slugger Mississippi Player of the Year and to Baseball America and Rawling's second Team All America teams.

The Houston Astros drafted the prep senior in the 19th round in 2010, but they couldn't strike a deal and he went off to LSU. He had a strong commitment to the school that scared off some teams and likely cost him a selection somewhere in the first ten rounds.

In 2011, as a Bengal freshman 2B, he hit .338 with 11 doubles, one triple, four homers, 32 RBI, 36 runs and 12 stolen bases and was selected as a Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American, Baseball America Freshman All-American (Second Team), and Freshman All-SEC. JaCoby came to earth in 2012. He played at second base and center field, batting .253 with 13 doubles, one triple, four homers, 29 RBI, 42 runs and a team-high 11 stolen bases. He topped off the summer by winning the home run derby at the Cape Cod League All-Star Game.

After starting off the first ten weeks of the 2013 season in a major funk, Jones, returning to full time duty at 2B, caught fire to finish with a .283/.382/.417 line with 15 extra-base hits (five home runs), 12 stolen bases and 42/28 K/BB.

John Sickel of Minor League Ball gave Jones' synopsis: "Tools aren't the issue here; Jones has plenty. His arm strength, running speed, and power potential all rank at least above average, the complete physical package ranking among the best in the 2013 college class. Jones has the range, arm, and athleticism to fit at several positions, including all the infield spots as well as center field.

However, scouts report problems with his swing mechanics that hold back his offense. He has a reputation for getting down mentally when things go against him, and his strike zone judgment is an obvious negative."

Mike Rosenbaum of Bleacher Report agrees.

"While he’s flashed first-round ability at times in each of the last three seasons, Jones’ baseball skills have simply never caught up. As a result, he’s arguably the most intriguing and risky position prospect in this year’s class. It’s going to take him significantly longer than most of his peers to develop, but the final product could be a power-speed monster."

His projection is the "Ceiling of an occasional All-Star and 30-30 candidate if all comes together; floor of a guy who possibly doesn’t make it to Double-A; very high risk."

And that fits the Pirate draft mode. They take a lot of high school kids and pure upside guys, passing on the safer established college player route to look for a kid with tools that aren't maxed out but they can coach up. That leads to a lot of grumbling among the fans, as the success rate isn't all that great, but it's the preferred Huntington method to bring top-end talent into the organization.

So it's off to Jamestown for Jones to begin his odyssey to Pittsburgh. It' should be an interesting path.

No comments: