Editor’s Note: the red baron has once again written up a very large number of prospects, done a great job on them, and combined them in just a few posts. You can read those posts, including a dozen reports on players who just missed the list by going here. This post contains a write-up of just a single prospect in a perhaps easier to digest form.-CE
#22: Connor Jones, RHP
6’3”, 200 lbs; R/R; 10 October 1994
Relevant Stats: 17.4% K, 4.4% BB, 2.34 FIP (Short Season)
So, what’s so great about this guy?
Okay, to get this out of the way first: I did not like the pick of Connor Jones at the time of the draft. I don’t like the delivery, the mediocre performance turned me off, and I just generally don’t see a pitcher who has been able to turn very solid stuff into anything resembling performance or really intriguing pitchability.
That being said, Jones came out in his first very limited taste of professional ball and did essentially what you wanted to see him do. He limited the free passes in a big way, rolled up lots of ground balls, and got his feet wet. He threw less than 15 innings total between two levels this year after the draft, so honestly, there’s a limited amount I can really say about him.
The stuff is solid; Jones will push his sinking fastball up to 94 regularly, and it’s one of those heavy heaters hitters tend to just pound into the ground. Coming out of high school, Jones was more a thrower than pitcher, who tried to just throw the fastball past everyone, but in his time at Virginia he gradually morphed into much more of a power sinker guy, and his ability to keep the ball on the ground and in the park is going to be his biggest plus going forward.
He throws a slider and a pitch that is alternately described as both a changeup and a splitter; to me it looks more like a regular old changeup, but it’s really tough to say. If he’s trying to throw a split, he should probably throw it a little harder, so it looks more like the sinker until the very end. Both pitches are pretty much just average most of the time, but every once in a while you’ll see him break out a 60 slider and get a big swing and miss on the change, and you can suddenly see a little of what the hype is all about. In general, though, there just isn’t a whole lot of bat-missing ability in Jones the way he is now, and I think the upside is fairly limited.
He should move relatively quickly through the system; this is a strike-thrower whose ticket to the big leagues is going to be his sinker, easily his best and most developed, polished offering. Jones isn’t all that different from Jake Woodford, the sinkerballer the Cards took out of a Florida high school in 2015, though I feel like Woodford potentially has a higher ceiling because of more ability to miss bats. So long as Jones stays healthy, he should take off pretty quickly in 2017. Long term, I honestly think his best fit within the organisation is probably as a trade piece in the next two years, as the Cards try to define which pieces they are going to keep and which to cash in to hopefully bring in some more core-level talent. A relatively polished college righthander whose ceiling falls a little short of being that core-type piece is exactly the sort of asset clubs need to produce from within.
Player Comp: Pick your favourite middling-strikeout sinker-heavy guy. Jason Marquis isn’t a bad comparison to make, with the caveat that you have to hope Connor Jones doesn’t believe, as Jason Marquis seemed, that a ‘hanger’ is an actual type of pitch, leading him to try and perfect it.
via Jheremy Brown: