Mariners Top 20 Prospects – #15 – James Jones
This is a series in which I’ll be going over my personal top 20 Seattle Mariners 2010 Prospects. As you can see, I’ll be counting them down, starting at 20, and I’ll try to do them, well, whenever I get the chance. Keep in mind that almost all of these are completely debatable, and reflect only my personal opinions.
James Jones is a 21 year old, speedy, left handed outfielder. He was the Mariners 4th round draft pick (113rd overall) in the 2009 amateur draft, and he spent the 2nd half of 2009 down in Everett. His value as a prospect comes from the fact that he has excellent tools. He’s got plus power, plus speed, and good range in the outfield, as well as solid contact rates and an advanced approach at the plate. It’s extremely tough to find any major flaws in his game, as he can pretty much do it all.
Despite being a solid defender, the most notable aspect of Jones’ game is still his offense. While he isn’t likely to ever be a big home run hitter – he probably projects as a 15-20 HR guy in the big leagues – he does have solid gap-to-gap power, coupled with solid contact rates. He only struck out 40 times in 164 AB’s in his first minor league stint, while posting a .392 on base clip and slugging nearly .500. Yeah, he has the potential to be a really good all around hitter. And it isn’t just about potential with him, either. Toolsy young prospects like Jones always have the talent, but the knowledge of the strike zone and the plate discipline are often missing, as they’re usually two of the last things to develop. In that way, James Jones is already one step ahead, as he possesses both of them.
There’s a reason prospects like James Jones are usually highly regarded. While he may not have the upside of someone like Greg Halman, he’s much closer to a sure thing, because he isn’t just your typical young prospect with nothing but raw talent – he knows how to hit, and he knows how to get on base. No, his potential isn’t completely overwhelming, but he, unlike many of your really high upside guys, has a decent shot at realizing it.
As for his defense, well, Jones doesn’t disappoint there either. His above average foot speed provides him with good defensive range, and he’d probably be a plus defender at any of the three outfield positions. Based on the tidbits I’ve been able to gather, he also has above average arm strength as well as good hands. While you probably won’t see him cracking the top 10 on any lists of this nature, he’s the type of prospect you love to have in your system, and he’s a fairly good bet, at the very least, to eventually be a useful major league player.