School: Spring High School, Texas
Selected 2010 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Dustin Mattison (37): How the mighty have fallen. Jones ranked number five on my list just a year ago and barely made it in my top 40 this time around. This is how I concluded my write-up on him a year ago, "If healthy this spring, Jones should get the opportunity to take his first crack at Triple-A and quite possibly a big league look sometime in 2010." That now seems really, really far from reality.
Jones' game centers on his superb speed and athleticism. But nagging injuries have derailed that speed that made him appear special and with the Cardinals' bringing in more upside and athletic talent, he can no longer be considered one of the top athletes in the mix.
Since 2008, his average, on base, and slugging percentages have dropped each season. Interestingly, his strikeout percentage and batting average on balls in play have fallen as well. Could his production just be bad luck? I don't think so.
There have been reports of concern over his work ethic. Also this winter, the Cardinals took him off their 40-man roster leaving him exposed to every team in baseball. Along with the Cardinals, the rest of baseball appears to feel that the 23-year-old won't bounce back. With several other players in the system that are similar to Jones producing, this might be his final year on our list.
Jones was the Cards 3rd round pick way back in 2005. He was a young toolsy player then. Now he's an older toolsy player, but he was still just 22 when he started the AA season last year. His 2008 season caught a lot of eyes, as he posted an OPS of .881 in his first stint at Palm Beach, followed by an OPS of .909 in his first 151 AB's at AA. 2009 brought a trip to the Futures Game, suggesting that the Cards thought very highly of him. It also brought injuries, which might have contributed to his OPS of just .738 in only 294 AB's.
But this year did not produce a rebound. He did manage 518 AB's, but his OPS actually fell a bit, to .696. His pre- and post-all –star OPS's were both in the .690's, so no sign of improvement there. A lefty, he did hit lefties better than righties (OPS of .731 to .675). His OBP in day games was a terrific .435, but that's just 54 AB's. I've heard nothing about him having difficulty picking the ball up at night, so I'd not read too much into that microstat. The Cards dropped him from the 40-man roster in the offseason. Hopefully he will still seize the opportunity. He's young enough to keep some hope. - Gagliano
Brian Walton (45): At this stage, there isn't much more to add to what the others have said about Jones. He barely registered on my list this year and I had to reconsider before even doing that. After all, Jones essentially played himself off the 40-man roster on the heels of two consecutive declining seasons while repeating Double-A.
I wanted to believe in Jones and as such, I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt over the last two mediocre summers. There was talk of nagging hamstring, quad and knee issues in 2009, but no such excuses were offered in 2010. The reality is that that Jones' periods of standout performance have been increasingly fewer and shorter in duration.
The fact is that Colby Rasmus, taken two rounds prior to Jones in the 2005 draft, will be entering his third season in the majors while Jones may be starting his fourth year in Double-A. During 2010, Jones was lapped by Adron Chambers, a 38th round pick in 2007 only eight months older than him.
Even if Jones finally reaches Memphis this coming season, the Cardinals have enough other corner outfield prospects that he may not even be able to secure starters playing time. Such is the reality for a fading prospect.
Our 2011 top 40 countdown continues: To see our entire list of 40 Cardinals prospects, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.
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