A New No. 1
Posted by Jason A. Churchill on July 12, 2006
It took all of 88 minor league games, but it has happened. Adam Jones has convinced me that he’s the best prospect in the Seattle Mariners farm system.
He’s sat atop the P-I hot sheet for awhile now, but took over that spot due to Jeff Clement’s injuries and subsequent surgeries, not because he had changed my mind on anything.
But Jones is the new No. 1 in my book, and while the formula will spit out the injuries to Clement as part of the equation, Jones has earned the top spot.
The kid is 20 freaking years old and hitting .277 in Triple-A Tacoma, where his home park is the third toughest stadium in the PCL in which to hit.
While he’s drawn just 25 walks all season versus 67 strikeouts, 16 of those bases on balls have come since June 3 and since that date, he’s fanned just 21 times while batting .336 with six home runs and 27 RBI.
Jones has also stolen 13 bases in 15 attempts and has made tons of progress in center field since the start of the year. He still makes that one mishap each series it seems, but instead of those balls going for doubles and triples or runners taking extra bases each time, Jones is still making plays on a good percentage of those line drives and fly balls he has misjudged.
He’s not ready for the big leagues, despite the possibility that the big club will rush him to the majors this year anyways, but he’s certainly putting some more doubt in the rear-view mirror about his long-term abilities to hit and hit for power.
When the season began, I pegged his power ceiling at about 25 home runs, with a slight shot for more in his peak years. Today, I’d be surprised now if he didn’t reach 25 long balls at least once or twice, and I’d put his chances at 30+ in the 15-20% range.
It will all hinge on his strike-zone judgment, plate coverage and pitch recognition, which are significantly better now than they were even six weeks ago. I don’t expect him to hit .300 too much – if at all – but the sky is the limit.
Best of all, Jones has shown great ability to learn and put what he’s learned to effective use in the batter’s box and out in center field.
Move over Mike Cameron and Reggie Sanders… right on out of the ceiling comp box and into the “if Jones reaches ‘half’ of his potential” column.
Maybe a better comp for Adam Jones is somewhere between Torii Hunter and Andruw Jones, the perennial all-stars.
I’m not against a September call-up, but he’s developing so nicely right now that it would be criminal to impede that at this point.
This is one prospect the club should leave in Triple-A — for now.