Scouting Rangers Prospect #35: Beau Jones

Beau Jones made what appears to be a permanent move to the bullpen in 2008, and the switch appears to be paying dividends. The left-hander pitched well at two levels last season before appearing in the Arizona Fall League. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at the left-hander with a feature article and an in-depth scouting report.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Beau Jones
Position: Relief Pitcher
DOB: August 25, 1986
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 195
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

Left-handed pitcher Beau Jones was one of the many talented prospects acquired by the Rangers in the 2007 trade that sent Mark Teixeira to the Atlanta Braves.

Jones was a last-minute addition to that deal because of concerns over Matt Harrison's then-ailing shoulder. As it turned out, Harrison's shoulder was just fine. But the doubts were a great thing, as it netted the club yet another big-time arm that could contribute for the Rangers within the next two seasons.

The 41st overall pick in the 2005 MLB Draft, Jones was selected between current big league pitchers Luke Hochevar and Clay Buchholz. Jones, a Louisiana native, signed with Atlanta for $825,000.

His professional debut came later that summer with the rookie-level GCL Braves. Jones pitched 35 innings, surrendering just 25 hits. He walked 16 and struck out 41.

The hurler began his first full season in Low-A ball, and he ran into a bit of a rough patch. Jones struggled with control all season – walking 83 in 110.2 innings – but he still flashed excellent raw stuff with his powerful fastball and promising breaking ball.

The Braves moved Jones to High-A Myrtle Beach in 2007, and his numbers quickly began to resemble that of Jason Neighborgall. Jones walked 14 batters in just 7.2 innings with the Pelicans. The performance got him sent back to Low-A Rome, where was lights-out as a relief pitcher.

Despite Jones' successes out of the bullpen, the Rangers weren't ready to give up on him as a starter. The club traded for Jones just before the deadline in '07, and they put him in the starting rotation with Low-A Clinton. Jones finished out the regular season by going 4-1 with a 2.70 ERA in 26.2 innings for the LumberKings.

Jones broke camp last season in the High-A Bakersfield starting rotation. In four April starts, Jones surrendered 17 runs – 11 earned – in 18.2 innings. He was then placed on the disabled list for well over a month.

When Jones returned, the Rangers chose to stick him in the bullpen. The southpaw instantly became the most dominant pitcher on the Bakersfield staff, posting a 1.11 ERA in 24.1 innings as a reliever. It was beginning to look like the Rangers had no choice but to keep him in the ‘pen.

Jones earned a promotion to Double-A Frisco, and he continued to pitch well. He had a 4.02 ERA in 15.2 innings, surrendering just 11 hits and striking out 15.

Just after the 2008 campaign, the Rangers appointed Jones to their Arizona Fall League affiliate, the Surprise Rafters. Jones finished the Fall League with an 8.44 ERA in 16 innings [13 apperances], and it largely came due to a couple of poor outings.

Even with the less-than-perfect AFL performance, there's no doubt that the 2008 season was extremely positive for Beau Jones.

Also See: Jones finding success in relief role (July 26, 2008)

Repertoire: Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.

Fastball: Jones' fastball has been anywhere between 88-95 mph during his pro career. He threw in the low-to-mid-90s during his professional debut in 2005, but he has mostly worked in the 88-91 range ever since, including in his time with Frisco last summer. Jones does have the ability to dial his fastball a bit higher when necessary.

Walks and overall fastball command have been a problem for Jones in the past, but his move to the bullpen appears to be helping him overcome those issues. Although his walk numbers could still improve, he appears to be a more confident and aggressive pitcher out of the bullpen.

Other Pitches: Jones' curveball and changeup are both borderline plus pitches. But neither pitch is there quite yet, as he still must command both offerings with more consistency. Jones has been known for his hard curveball since high school, but his changeup appeared to be his best offspeed pitch down the stretch in 2008. Jones has only been wielding his changeup for a few seasons, and it is still improving. His curveball flattened out at times last year, but when on, it can also be a legitimate swing-and-miss pitch.

Most starters-turned-relievers whittle their repertoire down to just two offerings, but Jones has not done that. The southpaw isn't afraid to throw his curveball or changeup in any count – even out of the bullpen.

Projection: After his strong performance as a reliever last summer, Jones is likely to stick as a reliever for the foreseeable future. His results improved after moving to the ‘pen, and he displayed the ability to throw three potentially above-average pitches for strikes during extended stretches. While Jones can be tough on left-handed hitters, he isn't likely to become a typical lefty situational reliever because of his ability to use three pitches, including an excellent changeup that makes him tough for righties. He could see time in the Rangers' bullpen by the end of the 2009 campaign.

2009 Outlook: Though Jones may get a cup of coffee with the Rangers next season, he's probably another full season away from being a major contributor. Jones has just 15.2 innings of experience at Double-A, and he'll probably break camp with Frisco next month. In his first year as a full-time reliever, Jones should take another huge step forward as he continues to adjust to his new role.

ETA: 2010.

Year Team W-L IP H BB SO ERA
2005 GCL Braves (RK) 3-2 35.0 25 16 41 3.86
2006 Rome (A) 5-5 110.2 125 83 101 5.53
2007 Rome (A) 5-0 48.2 38 12 46 2.96
Myrtle Beach (A+) 0-0 7.2 10 14 3 15.27
Clinton (A) 4-1 26.2 23 12 29 2.70
2008 Bakersfield (A+) 1-3 43.0 40 20 45 2.93
Frisco (AA) 2-1 15.2 11 9 15 4.02



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