Scouting Padres Prospect: Daryl Jones

After a strong showing as a 17-year old in Arizona, Daryl Jones was challenged in the Northwest League and came through with scars showing he was there.

But the rest of his game failed to follow. It began in the spring when he had arthroscopic surgery on his ankle and he was slow in coming back. When he did arrive, there was a question as to whether it was too soon, a fact that Daryl Jones admitted was probably the reason for his slow start.

Jones hit .088 in the opening month of the season for Eugene and minus a 4-for-16 September his best hitting month was July when he batted .213.

His main problem was pitch recognition. He had trouble all year handling off-speed pitches and heady pitchers threw him nothing but junk. The result was the .188 average over a 73-game season with 81 strikeouts in 255 at bats.

Playing in Eugene, the Padres Low-A short-season affiliate, as an 18-year old, Jones was given a long leash. The Padres knew it would be a challenge for the former Los Angeles high schooler but were eager to see how he would bounce back. Unfortunately, Jones only bounced.

"He fought all the way through the year," Tye Waller, the former director of player development, said. "There were days he played like he belonged."

A power hitter with as much raw juice as anyone in the system, Jones never got to show that muscle – belting four homers and eight doubles out of his 48 hits. The problem was not getting good wood on the ball when he connected.

"Big power – hit 17 balls into the seats at PETCO when we worked him out," Bill Gayton, the Padres' director of scouting, said.

He didn't have the correct contact lens prescription and that adversely affected his vision. But, the Padres should have been a resource in determining his vision problems and it should have been diagnosed earlier.

"I wish he would have said something earlier because he wasn't the same guy as he was a year earlier," minor league field coordinator Bill Bryk said.

Jones is hard on himself and refused to believe it was anything other than his talent letting him down. A bit crude coming out of a Los Angeles high school, he has a projectable body type and after an initial season of hitting close to .300, Jones found himself mentally challenged by his failures.

"I had some new contacts this year and they did not work for me, Jones explained. "During the day it was fine but during the night it was a problem. It was kind of blurry at times.

"I guess it was me being stubborn. I thought it was me just not playing well."

Jones finally told Bryk of his problems late in the year with the promise that Jones would take care of the issue in the off-season and he is now working with contact lenses that will actually help him rather than haunt him.

There are some who wonder whether his vision problems became a defense mechanism as the season teetered on the brink.

Lending credence to his vision problems was a hefty error total by a first baseman. He was credited with 16 errors – which would have been three behind the minor league first base leader in full-season ball.

"Defensively, he was adequate," Gayton said of his year in the field. "He probably regressed – different kid in Instructs. They did a good job with more personalized instructs."

Coming out of high school, Jones was seen as a raw player from a raw program. His fourth round status was based on his power potential and bat. That failed him this year.

The setback that was 2005 may keep Jones out of full-season ball in the coming year. A return to Eugene can't be a strain on this promising prospect.

He worked hard last off-season to get back from surgery and is now healthy and fit with new lenses to help his vision. Armed with hard work, Jones is hoping to redefine his career and prove his worth as a fourth rounder in 2004. He has to be patient at the plate and work on hitting the off-speed pitches with authority to reclaim his prospect status.

Still just 19, Jones has plenty of time to grow and learn.

"He is still young," added Bryk. "I think he has a chance to be a big league hitter. Struggle is good. We will see what he is made out of."

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