Top Prospect #35: Terry Jones

Terry Jones is a good player. Unfortunately, he's been an injured player and really hasn't had a shot at showing just what he can do. Now, after missing the 2005 season, Jones may be down to his last shot at impressing the Phillies enough to keep him in the system.

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Terry Jones was drafted by the Phillies and instantly given the title of Third Baseman of the Future. It may have been unfair and certainly had to be pretty daunting for a high school kid to be given such a moniker, but Jones had enough talent to deserve such a label. In fact, he still has enough talent that even if he doesn't figure to be the Phillies third baseman of the future, he could still carve out a nice career for himself. All he needs to do is stay healthy.

Jones has played just 45 games over the last two seasons and just 217 games over the last four seasons. The only year that he was completely healthy was 2003 and he put up sub-par numbers, partly because while he was technically healthy enough to play, he wasn't 100% and was hampered by the remnants of a foot injury that he suffered during the 2002 season.

When spring training arrives, Jones should be completely healthy, although there are rumors of lingering problems. You also have to be concerned about how he'll deal with repeated health problems that have hurt his career so much. Keep in mind that Jones will first turn 23 in March, so if he is able to stay healthy and produce at even a basic level in 2006, he could rebound enough to be considered a success and have a better than average shot at playing in the majors.

'01 GCL 0 4 .194 9 36 3 7 0 0 0 2 5 .237
'02 Batavia 1 16 .223 43 157 13 35 8 4 5 12 40 .297
'03 Lakewood 11 66 .240 129 454 57 109 27 4 11 43 111 .306
'04 GCL 1 1 .500 1 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 .500
'04 Clearwater 4 21 .204 44 147 14 30 7 0 3 18 30 .300
'05 Injured - DNP 0 0 .000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Career 17 108 .229 226 796 88 182 42 8 19 75 186 .301

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

Batting and Power: Jones hasn't shown any of the power or ability to hit for average that the Phillies expected to see. Granted, a lot of that has to do with injuries and playing hurt, but they will need to see some signs of life from Jones in the near future. One of the reasons that the Phillies had for moving Jones from shortstop to third base was because of his offensive capabilities, which haven't materialized.

Baserunning and Speed: While Jones has (or had) some speed, his biggest injury problem has been with his foot and ankle. It remains to be seen how much speed he'll have when he returns to playing, but don't figure on it being a big part of his game.

Defense: While his offense was one reason why Jones was moved from the shortstop position, defense was another. He lacked the range to play at short and was better suited for playing at third. Jones is adequate at third base, but tends to lose concentration from time to time and blow seemingly easy plays. His arm is strong and he certainly has enough of an arm to play third base. It will be interesting to see if the Phillies experiment with Jones at other positions, to try to ward off any further injuries and also to make him more versatile and therefore, more valuable.

Projection: If Jones is healthy, it's going to be a tough decision on where to start him. There are a number of potential scenarios. They could keep him in extended camp to make sure he's healthy and get a better evaluation on where he's at as far as where he should be assigned. He could also be challenged with a start at Clearwater, which would keep him close to the Phillies minor league complex and allow the Phillies to keep a better eye on him or, they could just send him to Lakewood. A lot will depend on what the Phillies see from Jones in camp as to where he'll be assigned.

ETA: It's going to be a long, slow climb for Jones. Right now, he doesn't figure to be much of a factor at the major league level until at least late in the 2008 season and possibly later. The fact of how few games Jones has played means that he's probably going to need some time just to get back into the groove of hitting a baseball and playing everyday. That alone could possibly cost him an entire season as a readjustment period. After that, he probably won't skyrocket up the ranks and will move pretty slowly, but since he's fairly young, he could still get himself in a good spot.

Comparison: It's hard to tell what kind of player will emerge from the injury problems and the time away from the game. Originally, the Phillies thought Jones would be a hitter in the mold of Pat Burrell, but those hopes have faded. Now, they would be happy for him to develop into the kind of player that David Bell was earlier in his career, but possibly being able to play a couple different positions and with any luck, having more power.


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