Name: Beau Jones
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: August 25, 1986
Not only did the Rangers have five first round picks in the 2007 MLB Draft, but they were able to pick up a former first round pick at last summer's trade deadline.
Left-handed pitcher Beau Jones was the 41st overall pick in the 2005 Draft. A native of Metairie, La., Jones passed up a scholarship to Louisiana State University and signed for a reported $825,000 bonus.
The southpaw initially reported to the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Braves, where he excelled. Jones pitched in eight games – making seven starts – and yielded just 25 hits in 35 innings. He was able to strike out 41 batters with the help of his outstanding fastball.
Jones made the jump to Single-A in 2006 and often struggled, as he walked 83 batters in 110.2 innings en route to posting a 5.53 ERA. After the season, Jones said he was able to learn a lot about himself that year.
"I beat up on myself a little too much," Jones told The Braves Show's Bill Shanks last March. "I wouldn't say I was expecting too much, but I did want more out of myself. I can't beat myself up. I have to stay focused and keep my eye on the prize."
Despite the rough numbers, the southpaw believes his 2006 season helped yield a second above-average offering.
"I found a legit number two pitch with my changeup," said Jones of 2006. "My fastball was a little erratic, but we're going to get it fixed and keep working at it and get it better."
After working at 92-94 MPH both in high school and during his pro debut, Jones worried some observers when his fastball velocity dropped into the 88-91 range during his first full season. However, Rome pitching coach Jim Czajkowski told Shanks there was nothing to worry about.
"His fastball was a little bit lower than it was coming out of high school," said Czajkowski after the 2006 season. "But when we get anybody and they're playing catch and doing the pro type workouts their velocity is going to drop some and it'll pick back up."
Jones returned to Rome to begin the 2007 season, where he worked out of the bullpen. The prospect earned a promotion to High-A Myrtle Beach after just 21.1 innings. Jones had showed improved control, recording 18 strikeouts versus five walks with Rome.
But Jones' newfound control didn't last long, as he issued 14 free passes in just 7.2 innings. The lefty was quickly sent back to Rome, where he worked out of the bullpen before being traded to the Rangers organization.
Jones joined the Rangers system via the Mark Teixeira trade. Though he wasn't initially included in the trade, reports state the Rangers asked for an extra player due to the concerns over the health of LHP Matt Harrison [the Rangers have since found out there is nothing wrong with Harrison's shoulder].
General Manager Jon Daniels was able to land that extra player, who ended up being Beau Jones. The Rangers kept Jones in the Low-A level for the remainder of the season, but moved him back to the starting rotation.
The move back into a starting role seemed to suit Jones well. In seven appearances – including six starts – with the Clinton Lumber Kings, Jones went 4-1 with a 2.70 ERA. He totaled 26.2 innings, gave up 23 hits, walked 12, and struck out 29.
At the end of the 2007 season, Jones was sent to play for the Rangers' Fall Instructional League club in Surprise, Ariz. However, Jones was unable to pitch, as he was forced to undergo surgery to remove bone chips in his left elbow. The injury is not considered to be serious and he is expected to be ready when spring training opens later this month.
Repertoire: Fastball, Changeup, Curveball.
Jones' stuff gives him the potential to develop into an outstanding prospect as he matures. The left-hander's fastball has fluctuated anywhere from 88-95 MPH since his pro debut in 2005. Jones worked at 92-94 in the short-season Gulf Coast League in '05, 88-91 with Single-A Rome in '06, and his velocity returned to the low-90s last season. The 21-year-old's changeup has made outstanding progress over the past two seasons, as it developed into an above-average pitch. Jones' hard curveball has plus potential, but it has been inconsistent.
Projection: The Metairie, La., native worked out of the bullpen in the Braves system last year, but he made six starts in seven appearances after joining the Rangers organization. The Rangers have made it known that Jones will continue to start for the foreseeable future. Though his 6-foot-1 frame doesn't leave much room for projection, Jones is a lefty with a hard fastball and two promising offspeed pitches. He could develop into a mid-rotation starter down the line. If he's unable to stick as a starter, Jones has the stuff and mentality to work out of the bullpen.
2008 Outlook: The Braves gave Jones a shot at the High-A level in 2007, a decision that produced Jason Neighborgall-like results (14 BB in 7.2 IP) for the hurler. Jones, who was sent back to Low-A after just five appearances, also worked at the Single-A level after joining the Rangers organization. The 21-year-old will get his second crack at High-A ball in 2008 while working as a full-time starting pitcher.
|2005||GCL Braves (RK)||3-2||35.0||25||16||41||3.86|
|Myrtle Beach (A+)||0-0||7.2||10||14||3||15.26|