Top Prospect #25: Terry Jones

The Phillies thought they had found their third baseman of the future when they drafted Terry Jones in 2001. Instead, they have a player who has faced injuries and struggled offensively in the early years of his minor league career. If Jones is to climb the ladder, 2005 will be a pivotal season.

In 2001, the Phillies were looking to fill an organizational hole at third base. Late in the draft, they found a couple of sleeper type picks for the position in Kris Bennett, Jeff Phelps and Sean Walsh. All three were college players who didn't show a whole lot of potential, but they were warm bodies that may turn into something more. Now, more than three years after the draft, none have really distinguished themselves as prospects. Luckily for the Phillies, they took a longer term approach to solving the problem when they took high schooler Terry Jones in the fourth round.

The Phillies knew that Jones was more of a project because of his age, but they also thought he could conceivably pass all of the other third base prospects that they drafted and that it would be Jones who would wind up being the third baseman of the future. The funny part about it is that Jones was actually a shortstop in high school, but his power potential and lack of true range at short made him more of a third base option than a shortstop.

Unfortunately for the Phillies, Jones has faced his share of injuries in his young career. In July of 2002, Jones suffered a fractured ankle that would hamper him through the rest of the season and into the next spring. The injury would cause more problems in 2004, limiting Jones' playing time.

If Jones is to start climbing back up the prospect ladder, 2005 will be a significant season for him to do that.

2001 Gulf Coast 0 4 .194 9 36 3 7 0 0 0 0 2 5 .236
2002 Batavia 1 16 .223 43 157 13 35 8 4 5 1 12 40 .297
2003 Lakewood 11 66 .240 129 454 57 109 27 4 11 9 43 111 .306
2004 Gulf Coast 1 1 .500 1 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .500
2004 Clearwater 4 21 .204 44 147 14 30 7 0 3 0 18 30 .300
Career 17 108 .229 226 796 88 182 42 8 19 10 75 186 .301

Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies out of Upland High School (Upland, California) in the fourth round of the 2001 Draft.

Batting and Power: One of the reasons why the Phillies loved Jones was his potential to hit the long ball. They even moved him out of the shortstop spot because of what they perceived as raw power. He showed some power in 2003 at Lakewood, but has just 16 homeruns in three full-season leagues, causing all to wonder where his power is. He also is sporting just a .229 career minor league average, which is well under what was expected.

Baserunning and Speed: Jones has some speed and he's slightly above average when it comes to running the bases.

Defense: Another reason Jones was moved to third base was because he lacked the true range of a shortstop. He is adequate at third base, but gets sloppy from time to time. His arm is pretty solid and he can make the long throws across the diamond.

Projection: Where will the Phillies start Jones in '05? He may be one of the toughest decisions that they'll face. He didn't set the world on fire at Clearwater, but they may go ahead and move him to AA Reading. Since Jones first turns 22 in March, he could spend another season at Clearwater and not be in danger of missing too much time. As for his long-term projection, the Phillies still hope that Jones will pick up the pace and at least come close to the player that they thought they drafted.

ETA: Initially, the Phillies thought that by about now, Jones would be getting a whiff of major league camp and moving closer to Philadelphia. Instead, he's likely got another three or four seasons in the minors before he gets a lot of consideration.

Comparison: The Phillies thought they would have a Pat Burrell type player in Terry Jones. Now though, he looks more like the struggling version of Burrell that we saw in 2003 than the Pat Burrell of 2002.

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