School: Spring High School, Texas
Selected 2009 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Dustin Mattison (5): After a breakout season in 2008, Jones experienced nagging leg injuries that slowed his progression. It is obvious that legs are the key to his game and he will have to get past the nagging ailments to continue to move up the ladder.
Possibly the best athlete in the system, the 22-year-old's below-average arm limits him to left field. With below-average power, his legs and superb speed will be his ticket to an everyday job. Jones still has a lot to learn in the area of base stealing but he has shown a propensity to learn so he should continue to develop in this area.
At the plate, he has matured immensely in the areas of plate recognition and discipline. Jones has shown he is capable of going the other way. With gap power, he is exciting when he hits the ball in the gap and uses his electric speed to turn doubles into triples.
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.
Message board community (4): Daryl Jones came in fourth in the community list this year after being fifth last year. The first votes for him were at the #2 position, but there were also questions about whether he should be in the top 10, so opinions were pretty varied. Jones had an injury-plagued year in which his power just didn't seem present (.378 slugging at Springfield). He did a good job of getting on base, with a .360 OBP. (Oddly, he got on base a bit better vs. lefties (.381) than righties (.342), thanks to five HBP by lefty pitchers!) He managed only one extra base hit (a double) against lefty pitching, in 71 at-bats.
But the picture would have been different if we'd looked at it in early May. Jones started out on fire, with OBP of .443, SLG of .478 in April, following on 2008's overall .407/.483. His May was not so bad, either, at .388/.406, and he was one of the Cardinals' representatives in the Futures Game. But in his remaining 137 AB's he cracked .600 OPS in no single month. He grounded into no double plays in the first two months (168 AB's), but nine the rest of the way. It is possible that much of his offensive drop was due to leg injuries. His overall line drive rate was a healthy .215, and it was lower later in the year.
But on a third hand, his BABIP was .404 in April and .383 in 2008 (both very high), so those favorable numbers above might well be inflated by luck. There were signs his hitting was heading south before his leg problems, though it's sometimes hard to know when leg problems hit. And there are questions about his arm, which some think might limit him to left field.
And yet a fourth hand, he'll not turn 23 until during next season, so he still has time to develop, and he's got athleticism on his side. He now has 419 Double-A AB's across two seasons, and he was in the Arizona Fall League in the offseason. Will he make the jump to the crowded Triple-A outfield? Will his power develop? Stay tuned. - Gagliano
Brian Walton (5): I really want to be a complete believer in Jones, but I remain concerned that his periods of brilliance have been relatively short in duration. Though perhaps not totally fair, I compare Jones to Colby Rasmus, taken in the same 2005 draft two rounds apart at roughly the same age. Of course, Rasmus already has a full season in the majors under his belt while Jones is stuck in Double-A, coming off a very uninspiring stint in the Arizona Fall League.
Then, we have the glut of corner outfield types that are competing at the upper levels of the system. Despite that, I have to assume that Jones' place in the prospect pecking order will ensure he gets the at-bats and innings in the field he needs to restore his 2008 momentum.
Tools are great, but only if they can be consistently leveraged. For Jones, his sixth season as a professional seems the time to step up.
Our 2010 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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