Name: Garrett Jones
Position: First Baseman
DOB: June 21, 1981
Garrett Jones came to the Twins organization in 2003, after being tossed aside by an Atlanta Braves franchise who were tired of waiting for his bat to come around. After all, in three seasons with the Braves, the slugging first baseman had only put together one solid season in the batting average column, and had failed to hit more than ten home runs in a single season. However, the Twins got him on the cusp of his best average season, and he has turned into one of the biggest home run threats in the organization.
Jones broke into Minor League baseball during the 1999 season, and the 18-year old struggled with the Gulf Coast League Braves. During his inaugural season, Jones batted only .241, and hit three home runs in 46 games.
The following year was Jones' worst as a professional, as he batted underneath the dredded Mendoza Line. In 40 games, Jones batted .174, showing very little pop at the plate. He failed to hit a home run, had only nine extra-base hits, and it was clear that he needed another season in the Appalachian League.
In 2001, again playing with Danville, Jones batted a respectable .289. Being in his second year of short-season ball, Jones was able to begin to get some confidence at the plate. He drove in a then-career high 23 runs batted in, and had 14 extra-base hits in 40 games.
After being let go by the Braves, the Twins scooped Jones up prior to the 2002 season. They assigned him to Quad City of the Midwest League, and he finally would get his first taste of full-season baseball. In 63 games, Jones batted only .202, but he did smack ten home runs, beginning a streak of four straight seasons with ten or more dingers.
He was moved up to the Florida State League in 2003, and again showed a prowess for the longball. He finished fourth in the league with 18 home runs, and was also fourth in home runs per at-bat. Still, he continued to struggle at the plate, as he only batted .220 for the year. However, 18 home runs in the Florida State League is impressive, and it would not be long until the slugger was putting up huge power numbers.
Although he began the year in Fort Myers once again, it did not take Jones long to become a member of Double-A New Britain. The move to the Eastern League definitely helped Jones, who would go on to have his best season as a pro. He smacked 30 home runs, good for fifth in the league, and drove in 92 runs in 122 games played. He also finished second in the league in total bases (267), slugging percentage (.593), and extra-base hits (65).
It was now clear to the Twins that they had found a legitimate power bat, but also that he needed to cut down on the strikeouts. In 2005, Jones was a member of the Rochester Red Wings of the International League, and again put up good power numbers. He hit 24 home runs, drove in 72, and finished fifth in the league with 134 games played.
This past fall, Jones played for the Grand Canyon Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, and put together a nice season in such an elite league. A member of the Twins' 40-man roster, Jones batted .289 in 25 games, and led the team in home runs with nine. He also led the team in runs batted in (30), doubles (9), and finished fifth on the team with 28 hits.
Batting and Power: There is no doubt that Jones can hit a baseball out of any park that he plays in, the problem is him making contact. Although he showed he could hit against the best prospects in America while playing in the Arizona Fall League, Jones needs to desperately work on his batting eye. He strikes out too much, and has a liftetime batting average of .248. However, he is a prototypical power hitter, so most scouts can understand why he strikes out so much. What they most want him to work on his getting on base, either by drawing a walk, or picking up a couple more singles along the way.
Baserunning and Speed: Jones is not fast, and he is never going to win any stolen base totals. He is a heady base runner, who rarely makes a mistake on the base paths, but he is not going to give any pitchers nightmares when he takes a lead off first. He has shown the ability to stretch a single into a double, but he is not going to stretch a double into a triple. Still, he is no liability on the base paths, and it is not such a glaring weakness in his game.
Defense: His defense is a weakness as well, as he has committed 30 errors the past two seasons playing mostly first base. He has been tried out in the outfield, but he is more suitable for a designated hitter type role. He can play the occasional first base, being that he has tremendous height, but he is seen as somewhat of a liability in the field.
ETA. 2006. Jones should make his Major League debut sometime during the 2006 season. He has pretty much done all he can at the Minor League level, and the Twins know exactly what kind of player he is. He is a power hitting, left-handed first baseman, who can bring pop to any lineup he is in. His tremendous play in the Arizona Fall League did a lot to up his stock with the team, and they can now be comfortable if they need him in the big leagues. If Justin Morneau does not bring the type of power this season that the Twins are hoping for, they may try Jones out at first, giving him his first taste of big league ball.