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No. 1 – Adam Jones, CF

Posted by Jason A. Churchill on April 1, 2007

Strengths: Jones can do a little bit of everything, covering his skillset with above-average tools across the board. He’s taken quickly to center field after spending most of his first three pro seasons at shortstop. His offense has progressed nicely, backed with plus bat speed and an improving approach to hitting.

The San Diego native has developed quicker than expected and is near-ready for the big leagues at just 21 years of age.

Weaknesses: The former first rounder simply lacks experience, still, and should never have been plucked from his groove in Triple-A Tacoma last season only to make a handful of starts followed by a number of DNPMSDs (did not play, manager’s stupid decision), wasting weeks of development.

Jones still needs to improve his plate discipline and learn to hit pitches where they are thrown, and while he’s shown the ability to do so he’s yet to reach satisfactory levels in that area.

The breaking ball still gives him problems, however.

AGE HEIGHT WEIGHT BATS THROWS ACQUIRED
21 6-2 205 Right Right Draft, 2003 – 1st round
YEAR TEAM LEVEL G 2B 3B HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG OPS OPS*
2006 Tacoma AAA 96 19 4 16 18 78 .287 .345 .484 .829 .882
2006 Seattle MLB 32 4 0 1 2 22 .216 .237 .311 .548 .603

Tools –

Hitting for Average (On-Base Skills): Jones has made significant improvement in pitch recognition, plate coverage and overall discipline, and though he still has room to get a lot better, he’s reached a level that should allow him to be productive in the big leagues.

He’s still on the aggressive side, but that’s not going to change with any amount of experience and asking him to take more pitches just isn’t conducive to Jones’ style of hitting. As he continues to learn how to control the strike zone he’ll probably be capable of .350-.360 OBPs in his prime, carried by a .270-.280 batting average and a moderate number of walks.
Grade: 50/60

Hitting for Power: This is the one area where the 21-year-old can still improve significantly. His bat speed is on the plus side and he’s already repeating his swing more consistently than some major leaguers with similar offensive skills. He’s still getting stronger and can cover any fastball without much problem.

Whether Jones is a 20-homer, 40-double type bat or is of the 30-30 variety remains to be seen, but the physical ability to launch 30+ longballs per season is certainly there. It would be an upset, however, if Jones failed to reach the 20-home run mark on a regular basis, and with his speed he could sit between 30 and 40 doubles a season as well.
Grade: 55/60+

Glove: Jones is a tremednous athlete, the best in the system, and his transition to center field is near completion – already – thanks in large part to his speed and natural instincts. He covers a lot of ground and his range will get better with more experience as he improves his reads, routes and jumps, but he’s made a lot of progress to this point and may ultimately become a plus defender.
Grade: 50/60

Arm: Jones was scouted as a pitcher in high school, clocked as high as 95 mph, and he takes that arm strength to center field where he can really let loose. He’ll always put tons of zip on his throws, but accuracy is where he’s seeking to improve, as the throws he’s making now are significantly different than any he made from the mound or shortstop during the first 12 years of his baseball-playing career.
Grade: 55/70

Baserunning: Jones has the speed and quickness to swipe 25 bases per season while legging out triples into the double-digit range, but his best work on the bases is done between first and third, and second and home on singles. He consistently gets good jumps and is aggressive enough to trust in game situations.
Grade: 55/65

Future: Jones is going to start the year in Triple-A Tacoma, starting in center field and either leading off or hitting in the 2-5 range. The more ABs he gathers, the better, and the same goes for the reps he gets defensively.

Should an injury present itself around July or August, don’t be surprised if even a contending Mariners’ club calls for Jones to step in on a full-time basis. He’s that close.

OFP: 68.0

MLB ETA: 2007

MLB CLONE:

Ceiling: Torii Hunter, Mike Cameron, Jermaine Dye
Median: Craig Monroe, Reggie Sanders, Bill Hall
Cellar: Jose Guillen, Michael Cuddyer

PI Projection: .280/.340/.475, 80 K, 50 BB, 20 SB

Churchill on Jones: Adam Jones has as good a chance to become a regular – and a star – as any M’s position prospect since Alex Rodriguez more than 10 years ago. He’s backed up his skillset with a great work ethic and a desire to get better every season.

The way he took to the position switch says a lot about who Adam Jones is as a person and teammate, and the way he took to hitting Triple-A pitching at the age of 20 says all you need to know about Adam Jones the ballplayer.

I don’t think there’s any way he fails as a big leaguer. At the very least he’s a super sub with power and defensive versatility, but if things work out, he’s a multi-time all-star with more power and overall offensive ability than either Cameron or Hunter.

Defensively, the sky is the limit, though it may take him a few years to soar to such hiugher levels. He’d be adequate TODAY. Tomorrow, though, he might be better than that, without even playing a single game.

Jones should take over in center in 2008, with Ichiro sliding back to right field – if he re-signs. In three seasons, Jones should be ready to hit in the 6-hole in the M’s lineup, if not a slot higher.

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38 Responses to “No. 1 – Adam Jones, CF”

  1. THe06TakE said

    I know you’re very high on Jones, JAC (as am I), but I’m surprised you had his ceiling pegged only as Hunter or Cameron because I’ve got them pegged as the median, and especially because you went on to say he can end up having even more power than either of those two. Neither Cammy or Torii were as good as AJ when they were 21, so I have to think his ceiling is a tad higher than theirs.

    What about comps to Eric Davis or Ron Gant as his ceiling?

  2. Goose said

    When your cellar is Jose Guillen and Cuddyer, your doing pretty good.

  3. Isaiah Hunter said

    I remember DOV talking about Gant as his comp. Is Andruw Jones to much of a ceiling?

  4. Talkbaseball said

    I really like the Bill Hall comparison. Similar type athletes with nice power and speed. Hall is also moving to the outfield after playing SS. If Jones puts up numbers like Hall’s last year I would be happy.

  5. bilbo said

    JAC, in your opinion does Jones have the skillset to bat leadoff if a certain CF doesn’t return next year or is that asking too much too soon?

  6. Lance said

    Should the M’s be buyers this July 31st you know teams are coming after him like they did with the Mets’ Lastings Milledge. What are the chances someone could pry Jones away?

  7. Jason,

    Any thoughts on the Jason Ellison-for-Travis Blackley trade?

    I don’t like it. I’ve watched Ellison plenty, and he’s a classic Quadruple-A outfielder, who can rake in the minors, but is a complete dud at the plate in the bigs. Unless the M’s have really given up on Blackley, I don’t see how this deal made any sense.

    Thanks.

  8. Oops — missed your comment about it in the other thread. Sounds like you’re much higher on it than I am, or do you see it as more of a nothing-for-nothing (or close to that)?

    Thanks and nice write-up on Jones.

  9. THe06TakE said

    5 – I don’t see AJ being the traditional leadoff man because he isn’t projected to make elite contact, but speed + high OBP is good enough if you ask me. He’s hit leadoff in Triple-A and done well enough so he doesn’t seem to be uncomfortable with it either.

  10. Adam B. said

    I think if the M’s seriously believe that Ichiro isn’t going to be returning, we may see a “lead-off” type hitter acquired (either through a trade or the draft?)

    I always shudder to think how the M’s almost acquired Juan Pierre… I guess there’s still time. *sigh*

    Off-topic but still somewhat pertinent, Would Fontaine still be involved in this years draft if Bavasi were canned well before? I’d assume because of ongoing scouting and the length of time required for draft preparation, that Fontaine’s direction would still be used even in the event of his decidedly less astute cohorts departure, but it’d be nice to get at least one more Fontaine draft since we’ve been forced to endure another Bavasi off-season.

  11. MC said

    There’s got to be almost zero chance that Bavasi is sacked before June.

  12. Hit and Run said

    Jason,

    Just wanted to let you know that I have enjoyed all the prospect reports. Certainly appreciate all the work you put in. Hope the archives are kept handy on your site because many of us will probably want to reference them during the season to refresh our memories about certain players’ skillset, etc. Great Job!

    Hit and Run

  13. Thanks for the kind words, fellas. Much appreciated.

    Re: the trade

    I don’t hate the trade, because, honestly, thee club has several Travis Blackley’s and a few that are further a long and/or have higher ceiling’s — without shoulder scars — and though Travis is my all-time fave pitcher in the system, he and the club are probably better off this way.

    Now, Travis isn’t blocking someone like Thomas or Rohrbaugh and he’ll get a better shot in SF.

    Ellison… well, it’s slightly better than carrying Ordonez, but… he’s not good.

  14. cujo said

    Very nice piece i love Jones i think he will be a 3 hitter and play in the mould of Eric Davis alot of pop and alot of bags .He isnt ready yet but when he is watchout this guy should be very special.Now lets hope the mariners arent in it at the trade deadline so Bavasi doesnt trade him to save his job.That would set the mariners back a while further then Bavasi allready has.

  15. Greg08 said

    What i really hope doesnt happen is that the Mariners are out of it by the trade deadline and Bavasi knows hes going to get fired so he trades Adam Jones for nothing….

  16. Lance said

    You must really hate Bavasi terribly to make such an odd comment as that.

  17. Greg08 said

    i do

    the whole soriano for ramirez trade is why

    and the vidro trade when they jus coulda used someone like broussard who woulda done much better

  18. If Soriano blows out his arm tomorrow, and you had reason to believe it was possible that Bavasi and company felt strongly that injury was a risk for Raffy, would your opinion change?

  19. Greg08 said

    nope cuz i’d still be about about vidro, signing weaver, having morrow on the team, and trading randy winn

  20. jp17 said

    If Randy Winn came back to the M’s, guess who he’d be battling with for a spot? Jason Ellison. There was nothing wrong with trading Winn at that time. It was, in fact, the right thing to do. Winn was due a raise the following year, wasn’t worth it, and was blocking Snelling, who later injured himself yet again.

  21. Just the Soriano deal, Greg.

  22. marinertrueand blue said

    What is everyone thing with randy winn he is not a great player he is average at best and defensivly he is below average iam glad we traded him and vidro is excatly what this lineup needs a patient hitter and it is not like a 6 million dollar contract is impossible to move

  23. The problem with the Vidro trade isn’t necessarily Vidro’s ability or even his contract. It’s the combo of his bat being moderately productive, him having no defensive value anymore, it costing the team 12 million over two years PLUS Emililano Fruto and Chris Snelling, a player that is likely to outproduce Vidro anyways.

    It’s a terrible trade.

  24. Greg08 said

    o i’m sorry jason i thought u meant what bavasi has done all together

    then if soriano blew out his arm soon i would have to agree that that was a smart trade

  25. well, they may be wrong about it, but that’s a big part of why they dealt Soriano.

  26. Greg08 said

    why would they think he will blow out his arm?

  27. he did have TJ surgery two years ago… maybe they saw something last year.

  28. Greg08 said

    they still coulda gotten more for him than ramirez

  29. If they didn’t have a timetable, maybe.

  30. Greg08 said

    what was their timetable

  31. In a hurry to add a starter before the well dried up. Dont blame Bavasi for that part, though.

  32. EA said

    why would they think he will blow out his arm?

    How about the fact that he went down for indefinite periods a couple of times last year with arm issues? This year in ST, after showing up late due to visa issues, he missed a few games with shoulder stiffness.

  33. Lance said

    Just my two cents, but I’m fine with the Vidro deal. We’ve got enough big bats in this lineup, but few professional clutch hitters like Vidro. DH suits him well. If Vidro is an old 31, Snelling is an older 25. Those knees are pretty shot. His 2006 was pretty bad. He’ll never come close to what was hoped for. I’m sorry to see Fruto go, but you’ve got to give up to get. Vidro will do what he’ll be needed for, and that’ll be worth losing Fruto.

    No argument that Soriano is a top notch setup guy, but we needed starters and 26-yo groundball throwing starters are tough to come by unless you grow one yourself. This was a fair deal that I’m quite confident will workout well for both teams.

    You don’t need to swindle the other team to make a good trade. Just make one that truly helps your own team. I wish Rafael all the best. I hope he stays healthy his entire career now. He doesn’t need to breakdown for this to be a good deal for Bavasi and Seattle. Starters are more valuable and harder to come by than relievers just by themselves.

  34. Goose said

    I highly disagree. #4 starters are not more valuable than top of the line setup men.

  35. Ramirez has to prove to be a legit No. 3 for this to be a good trade.

  36. Adam said

    If anyone uses the term “professional hitter” again, they should be stripped of posting privileges.

    Dumbest term in baseball, hands down.

  37. Ok, you are done, then, Adam. You just used it.

  38. Adam said

    D’oh!

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