The MLB Draft is on Monday and Seattle Mariners fans have no idea what is going to happen. While the rumors revolving around Anthony Volpe other college infielders make sense in Round 1.
One of the names that could make sense for the Mariners is the University of North Carolina at Wilmington infielder Greg Jones. This time of year, you’ll hear a lot of people describe a prospect as someone with helium. The term is used to describe a prospect whose stock has quickly risen. Greg Jones is a player with helium.
Coming out of high school, Jones was actually in the conversation to be a top 200 pick but a strong commitment to UNC Wilmington forced him down to the 17th round where he opted for college instead.
Now, as a draft-eligible sophomore, Jones will likely be selected in the Top 50 picks of this year’s draft. The switch-hitting infielder is one of the more unique toolsets in the draft this year, including his elite speed.
Jones’s speed may be the highest rated, individual tool of any prospect in this draft. He uses the tool well, successfully stealing 40 bases in 2019.
2019 was a breakout season for the bat as well. Jones slashed .343/.491/.551 with 12 doubles, 9 triples, and 5 home runs, as well as 53 walks to just 41 strikeouts. The biggest question surrounding Jones is how the bat will translate. There is good bat speed in his solid swing, but questions remain about his ability to handle pro pitching.
Some scouts believe the power will come and he does show above-average power in batting practice and has begun to translate some of it into game power. He also has refined his approach at the plate, taking more walks as to better utilize his best skill, base-running.
Defensively, Jones has handled shortstop at UNCW, but reports do indicate that he has issues throwing from multiple angels despite solid arm strength. A move to centerfield could be in the cards. His elite speed gives him a chance to be plus out there giving him a floor of Billy Hamilton in the big leagues.
If Jones can grow a half grade in his hit and power tools, Jones could lead MLB in steals on a consistent basis while clubbing 10-15 home runs and providing plus defense in center or above-average defense at second.
Scouting Grades(20-80)- Hit: 45 Power: 45 Speed: 80 Field: 50(SS), 60(CF) Arm: 50 Overall: 50
Whether the Mariners believe they can help Jones unlock his full potential at the plate will dictate whether they see Jones as a fit or not. As the draft inches closer, we continue to hear more about Jones’ rise up draft boards. A team looking to save bonus pool money could snag him before Seattle.
As a draft-eligible sophomore, Jones has the ability to simply re-enter the draft in 2020 if he doesn’t like the money being offered. While it is uncommon for a player to do that when selected in round 1, it could work out for Jones if he continues to show growth at the plate this summer.