Name: Garrett Jones
Position: First Baseman
DOB: June 21, 1981
Garrett Jones was originally drafted by the Braves in the 14th round of the 1999 draft, and began his professional career with the Gulf Coast League Braves as an 18-year old first baseman. In 46 games, Jones batted only .241, while striking out more than once per game. He would go on to only smack three home runs, as he was just getting used to professional pitching.
In 2000, Jones would get his first taste of the Appalachian League, though it was his worst season as a pro. He batted below .200, and failed to hit a home run for the only time in his career. The sub-par season would mean a return trip to the Apply League, where he would have a much better season for the Danville Braves.
The 2001 season would be his last season as a member of the Atlanta Braves organization, though he did put up solid numbers. He was released by the Braves in May of 2002, and the Twins quickly picked him up. He would make his Twins debut as a member of the Quad Cities Swing, though his .202 batting average for the Swing would be his second lowest total of his career.
In 2003, Jones would make his Florida State League debut, and would begin to show the power that makes him the best power hitting prospect in the Twins organization. He blasted 18 home runs, in what is historically a pitcher-friendly league, which was two more than his career total at the time. Though he only batted .220, he did drive in 67 runs, while smacking 35 extra-base hits.
The 2004 season would really put Jones on the map, as he put together one of the better power seasons that the New Britain Rock Cats had seen in years. He blasted 30 home runs for the Cats in 122 games, after being called up from Fort Myers. He would go on to drive in 92 runs, by far a career-high, and the 30 home runs would begin a string of 20+ home run season. He also batted .311, the only time in his career that he would bat above .300, and he set a career-high with ten stolen bases.
The 2005 season would bring more power numbers for the young slugger, though it would also be his first season with 100+ strikeouts. He smacked 24 home runs, but his .244 batting average was something that scared Twins brass. He would hit 21 home runs in 2006, but would once again bat below the .250 mark. He did have a successful season in the Arizona Fall League after the 2005 season, but it did not translate into a higher batting average in 2006.
Jones also got some work in the outfield in 2006, playing 23 games away from his first base position.
Batting and Power:Jones is the best power hitting prospect in the Twins organization, and there is nobody within the system who believes differently. One thing that has plagued him throughout his career has been his ability to hit for average, which is the only thing keeping him out of the Twins Major League roster. He has struck out better than 100 times in each of the last three seasons, and has a .246 career batting average. If he can work on his batting eye, and can show the ability to hit in the .270 range, than he will definitely be looked at as one of the best batting prospects in the organization. He can hit the ball to all fields, but sometimes he tries to pull the ball, which gets him into counts that he struggles with.
Baserunning and Speed: Jones is not too slow, but he is also never going to win any stolen base titles. For a first baseman, Jones has shown the ability to steal a base or two in his time with the Twins, and has actually stolen ten bases in one season. He has averaged around six stolen bases per season during his Minor League career, and is usually good for anywhere between five and ten in any given season. He is also a solid base runner, who does not make too many mistakes when he is on the basepaths. When he gets on base, he is definitely not a liability, though he is often pinch-ran for in the later innings when needed.
Defense: Jones is a solid defensive player, and actually showed the ability to play the outfield during the 2006 season. The fact that he got some work in the outfield could help him make it to the Majors during the 2007 season, but he has also shown the ability to be a solid first baseman in his time with the Twins. In his last four seasons, Jones has posted a fielding percentage over .990, and has been involved in nearly 300 double plays. In his 23 games as an outfielder in 2006, Jones committed only one error, showing good skills in the outfield.
ETA. 2007 Jones should make his Major League debut during the 2007 season, barring any kind of setback. If he can start the season off on a hot streak, and shows the ability to bat for a decent average, than his ability to hit for power should make him quite valuable to the Twins lineup. The Twins have been waiting for him to show them something for the past two seasons, and he is currently a member of their 40-man roster. He has been rated the best power hitting prospect in the Twins organization for the past two seasons, and has the ability to be a solid bench player in the Major Leagues.