Scouting Yankee Prospect #32: Mitch Jones

The Yankees selected Mitch Jones in the 7th round of the 2000 draft. Jones has light tower power from the right plate, but has difficulty keeping his strikeouts down and making more contact. However, his monstrous power is enough to make him an intriguing prospect. It's these reasons that he's our Yankee's prospect #32. <b>(Free Preview of Premium Content)</b>

Vital Statistics:
Name: Mitch Jones
Position: Left Field/First Base
DOB: October 15, 1977
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 215
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Place of Residence: Orem, Utah

Jones is one of the more intriguing minor leaguers in the Yankees' system. He just turned 27 years old in October and is blessed with tremendous power. His peripheral stats were just gaudy in 2004, hitting 55.7% of his hits for extra-bases! He is very patient at the plate and is willing to take a walk. He's not the best contact hitter however. His game resembles that of a right-handed version of Adam Dunn of the Reds. Jones should be in AAA-Columbus in 2005 and could be on the Bronx-Columbus shuttle whenever a injury befalls the Yankees in the outfield. His advanced age negates his status as a true top prospect, but don't be surprised if you see him in the Majors as a reserve outfielder and somebody to provide power off the bench. With the type of power he has, anything can happen.

Mitch Jones hit 39 home runs and drove in 97 runs in Trenton this past year, a year in which his accomplishments were repeatedly kicked to the second page behind such high profile minor leaguers as Ryan Howard and Casey Kotchman. Jones has no problem with that, "I've never been that frontrunner, my whole career I've sort of been that quiet guy that just goes about his business," says Jones. "A lot of times these guys that get the big hype don't end up doing anything anyway, I just keep playing and working hard, and hopefully people in the organization will notice that."

What Jones is working on specifically is clear. Bat on ball. In 496 at bats last season he struck out 152 times, meaning that while he did hit 39 home runs, his batting average was just .246. That has been something to constantly plague him throughout his career and possibly the only thing keeping him from stardom. However, he did have help in the Arizona Fall League this year, and he was using it. "My manager down here [Bruce Fields of the Detroit Tigers organization] is a hitting coach, and so is Jose [Marzan of the Twins], so I am always working with them and picking their brains. I'm trying to stay back, just meet the ball, and not try to pull everything."

While hitting is the focus and will ultimately be his big ticket, it wasn't the only thing on Jones' mind over the past year. The coaches in the Arizona Fall League had him working at a new position, first base. "It is definitely an adjustment, but it hasn't been too bad" Jones told PinstripesPlus.com with a smile that implies he knows the situation. With the Jason Giambi affair not going away anytime soon and the departure of John Olerud and Tony Clark, the Yankees have a hole at first, and that position could be Jones' ticket to the big leagues. "I don't care about the competition, I don't care about the hype. I'm here to work hard and learn, and I'm doing that. I had a pretty good year and I'm trying to carry that over to the fall. I just keep playing hard and working hard and hopefully things keep going well."

No matter what the fate of Mitch Jones may be, he certainly made a case for himself in the Arizona Fall League in 2004. Jones put on an offensive showcase, a true coming out party of sorts. He batted well above his normal average, .333 in 93 at bats. The right handed slugger was also among the league leaders in home runs with 6. Not to mention, he has also fourth in the Fall League with 26 RBI. And, with this, suddenly Mitch Jones was put back on the map.

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2004

Trenton

.246

496

25

39

97

92

8

64

152

.334

.548

2003

Trenton

.242

463

18

23

91

76

5

58

131

.338

.430

2002

Norwich

.218

216

16

10

27

31

1

18

59

.290

.431

2002

Tampa

.266

229

19

13

49

36

0

20

71

.329

.520

2001

Tampa

.224

487

36

21

71

85

9

81

135

-

.439

2000

Staten Island

.268

284

28

11

54

46

8

35

66

-

.504


* Stats as of 10/1/04

Batting and Power. There isn't much to explain here other than that Mitch Jones has some big time power in his bat. To put it simply, there are likely only a handful of minor leaguers that possess more lethal power than this 27 year old. His 39 home runs in 2004 were third among all minor league players at any level. Another attribute he has is his good patience at the plate. However, Jones seems to be part of the new era of hitters, walks and strikeouts. There are also few that can strike out as much as Mitch Jones can. He simply has to make more contact if he ever wants to be an everyday major league player. He can make the show on his power alone but only as a reserve player. Jones works hard on his offense so improvement would not come as a surprise. If he could learn to simply take a more conservative swing when he is behind in the count, it could make all the difference in his game.

Base Running and Speed. While speed is not exactly the forte of Mitch Jones, it is certainly not a weak spot at all. In fact, Jones was able to swipe 8 bases in 2004 with Trenton. It is certainly a nice addition to a guy known mostly for his power. Jones is far from a liability on the bases and makes intelligent decisions on the base paths. He projects to steal around 10 bases per season.

Defense. On defense, Mitch Jones has proved to be a decent defender in the outfield. The righty throwing Jones has a solid throwing arm at best but needs to improve upon his accuracy. This is one of the main reasons that the organization is weighing their options for him playing other positions such as first base. He has good hands so first base may be a pretty good fit for him in the future. However, he is not an unreliable outfielder so first base will only add to his positional flexibility.

Projection. With the new defensive dimension added with Jones playing some first base, things could be looking up for the slugger. In fact, it is still possible that Jones could be a starter on a low echelon team that hits lots of homers but also racks up his fair amount of strikeouts well. However, it appears more likely that he will be a power hitting reserve/pinch hitter of the bench. In fact, we could be looking at Rob Deer, Part 2.

ETA. Late 2005. As of now, it is basically a lock that Mitch Jones is going to start the 2004 season with AAA Columbus. He may end up as the starting first baseman or a startin,g outfielder also. If he continues to crush home runs at this pace, the slugger could easily earn himself a September callup to the Bronx as a power hitting bat off the bench.

Subscribe to PinstripesPlus.com today! Only $79.95 brings you one full year of Total Access Pass and all premium content on PinstripesPlus.com, Scout™ Player and Roster Database (including the 'Hot News' at the top of the site), Breaking News and Information, Total Access to all TheInsiders.com Websites, and Player Pages, detailing the progress and careers of players from high school, the minors, and the pro ranks.

Sample the PinstripesPlus.com Total Access Pass™ at no risk for 5 days, then pay only $7.95 or $21.95. If you want to save 2 months off the monthly subscription price, simply choose the annual PinstripesPlus.com Total Access Pass™ at $79.95.

Subscribe to PinstripesPlus.com


Pinstripes Plus Top Stories