Scouting Yankees Prospect #37: Jason Jones

The New York Yankees selected RHP Jason Jones in the 4th round of the 2004 draft out of Liberty University. Jones has exhibited some of the best control among the Yankees pitching prospects in his two seasons with the Yankees. It is this reason that Jones ranks #37 among the Top 50 Yankees Prospects. Here's a scouting report on Jason Jones.

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Vital Statistics:
Name: Jason Jones
Position: Pitcher
DOB: November 20, 1982
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 225
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Jason Jones leapt on to the prospect scene in 2004 with a remarkable professional debut, going a combined 5-4 with a 2.61 ERA in two stops between the Staten Island and Battle Creek Yankees. It was his impeccable control however that had many in the Yankees' organization excited about the tall right-handed hurler. He walked just six batters in 79 1/3 innings in 2004 and didn't get charged with one wild pitch, boasting the type of control only found in seasoned veterans.

When he began the 2005 season posting a 3.95 ERA in his first ten starts in the Florida State League with the Tampa Yankees, Jones had the look of a solid pitching prospect. However, when Jones and the Yankees started tinkering with his mechanics and working on a couple of pitches, the bottom seemingly fell out on his rising prospect stock. He finished the season going 0-5 with a 12.52 ERA in his final seven starts, bringing his overall season mark to 5-12 with a 5.68 ERA.

"I got in a bad habit of pulling off and not staying through the pitch," a humbled Jones revealed. "We watch video tapes a lot and that's one thing I see going on. When you're in the game you don't want to think about mechanics so its all about repetition so when you're in a game you've done it enough so that you can stay on the pitch and throw it through. I'm kind of cutting off and pulling off which caused me to leave the ball up over the plate, which caused me to give up a lot of hits this year. I left the ball up quite a bit."

Opposing Florida State League batters hit a ridiculous .323 off of Jason Jones in 2005, but his .438 opponents' batting average in his final seven starts had a lot to do with it.

"For me it is mechanical," Jones continued to analyze. "I think in this league, or AA or AAA, or whatever league, if you leave the ball up, these hitters are too good to not drive the ball somewhere. Whatever the case, if you leave the ball up, they're going to hit it."

Jones spent a majority of the season tweaking his mechanics and working with Nardi Contreras, the Yankees' Minor League Pitching Coordinator, to lengthen his stride in order to gain some velocity on his fastball while testing a couple of different grips with his changeup in order to maximize his potential. For Jones, his 2005 season wasn't about piling up the stats but rather his first real opportunity to take one step back in order to eventually take two steps forward.

"I've had some ups and downs, some good outings and some bad," Jones told us towards the end of the year. "Lately I've been trying to work on some things, trying to throw a little harder with my mechanics. But overall I'm pretty happy. Of course its not where I want to be. I just kept working with Pav [Tampa Pitching Coach Greg Pavlik] and I think I made a lot of strides this past season with my changeup and pitches like that. I just haven't been able to bring it all together."

The hard part for passive followers of prospects to remember is that the minor leagues is a system to work on a player's weaknesses and not necessarily a "tryout" for the Major Leagues. The majority of minor leaguers who become quality Major League players are the ones that iron out the wrinkles to their game in the minor leagues instead of at the Major League level.

Despite the seemingly dreadful numbers he posted in 2005 - numbers which were skewed with a cold stretch at the end of the year - Jones is as confident as ever in his ability. He realizes the type of pitcher he is and he knows what he needs to do to realize his ultimate goal of reaching the big leagues.

"I know I'm a ground ball pitcher," Jones told PinstripesPlus.com. "I try to get a lot of ground balls and that helps my pitch count out a lot. Sometimes I'd rather walk a guy than throw non-quality pitches. If I'm still throwing quality pitches, I'll do that rather than walk a guy. I'd rather throw a quality pitch and get a guy to swing at it though."

Year

Team

W-L

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2005

Tampa

5-13

128.1

171

20

76

5.68

2004

Battle Creek

3-1

31.1

38

3

19

2.87

2004

Staten Island

2-3

48.0

42

3

27

2.44



Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Slider, Changeup.

Fastball. Jason Jones has made impressive strides with his fastball from his days in high school in college. Once only able to top out around 84 MPH with his fastball, Jones now sits in the 88-92 MPH range with his 2-seam and 4-seam fastballs. Jones considers his 2-seam fastball, a pitch more in the 88-90 MPH range, his second best pitch behind his slider. It has real good sinking action and the majority of his fastballs are 2-seamers, the main reason he's predominantly a ground ball pitcher. The Yankees believe that Jones, a big-bodied pitcher, has the potential to throw harder and they have been working on lengthening his stride on the mound to use his strong lower body more with powerful leg drives to gain a few extra ticks on his fastball.

Other Pitches. Jones's best pitch is his devastating slider. It has excellent late breaking action that tails away from right-handed batters and in on lefties. His slider sits in the 81-83 MPH range. Jones compliments his slider and fastball with a decent curveball that averages about 73-75 MPH. He completes his repertoire with a developing changeup, a pitch that has been the focus of he and the Yankees' pitching coaches since the Instructional Leagues in 2004. His changeup, which averages about 81-83 MPH, has become a more solid pitch for him over the last year or so and there's still plenty of room for improvement with it.

Pitching. Jones is all about tremendous control and impeccable command of his pitches, locating pitches in all four quadrants of the plate. He rarely walks batters and forces would-be hitters to put the ball in play and allow his defense behind him to make the necessary plays. Jones will not pile up the high strikeout totals and because he's always in the zone with his pitches, he'll give up a few more hits than most pitchers. Jones goes right after batters and mixes up his pitches to keep opposing batters off-balance, throwing off their timing much in the same manner as Greg Maddux. He also works very quickly on the mound and doesn't allow hitters to get comfortable at the plate.

Projection. Jones' numbers in 2005 are not an indication of the type of pitcher is nor will be down the road. He is much better than his late-season collapse showed. If the Yankees and Jones can clean up his mechanics to allow him to throw harder and he can make some more improvements with his changeup, Jones could once again display the type of success he had in his professional debut in 2004. Because he is always in the strike zone with his pitches, he's able to keep his pitch counts low and work deep into games. Big-bodied and strong, Jones is an innings eater and projects to be a solid starting pitcher down the road. He doesn't have the blazing fastball to be a frontline starting pitcher, but he projects to be a solid backend starter in a Major League rotation.

ETA. 2008. Jones' struggles this past season could possibly give him a ticket back to the Florida State League in 2006, but the quality and depth of the starting pitching prospects could force the Yankees to send Jones to AA next year despite the sub-par year last season. If Jones finds himself in Trenton next season, his timetable could get pushed up a little sooner. As it stands right now however, the safer bet is seeing Jason Jones get his chance in the Majors by 2008.

_____________________________________________________

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\r\n \r\n\r\n\r\n(FREE PREVIEW OF PREMIUM CONTENT)
\r\n
\r\nVital Statistics:
\r\nName: Jason Jones
\r\nPosition: Pitcher
\r\nDOB: November 20, 1982
\r\nHeight: 6'5\"
\r\nWeight: 225
\r\nBats: Right
\r\nThrows: Right
\r\n
\r\nJason Jones leapt on to the prospect scene in 2004 with a remarkable professional debut, going a combined 5-4 with a 2.61 ERA in two stops between the Staten Island and Battle Creek Yankees. It was his impeccable control however that had many in the Yankees' organization excited about the tall right-handed hurler. He walked just six batters in 79 1/3 innings in 2004 and didn't get charged with one wild pitch, boasting the type of control only found in seasoned veterans.
\r\n
\r\nWhen he began the 2005 season posting a 3.95 ERA in his first ten starts in the Florida State League with the Tampa Yankees, Jones had the look of a solid pitching prospect. However, when Jones and the Yankees started tinkering with his mechanics and working on a couple of pitches, the bottom seemingly fell out on his rising prospect stock. He finished the season going 0-5 with a 12.52 ERA in his final seven starts, bringing his overall season mark to 5-12 with a 5.68 ERA.
\r\n
\r\n\"I got in a bad habit of pulling off and not staying through the pitch,\" a humbled Jones revealed. \"We watch video tapes a lot and that's one thing I see going on. When you're in the game you don't want to think about mechanics so its all about repetition so when you're in a game you've done it enough so that you can stay on the pitch and throw it through. I'm kind of cutting off and pulling off which caused me to leave the ball up over the plate, which caused me to give up a lot of hits this year. I left the ball up quite a bit.\"
\r\n
\r\nOpposing Florida State League batters hit a ridiculous .323 off of Jason Jones in 2005, but his .438 opponents' batting average in his final seven starts had a lot to do with it.
\r\n
\r\n\"For me it is mechanical,\" Jones continued to analyze. \"I think in this league, or AA or AAA, or whatever league, if you leave the ball up, these hitters are too good to not drive the ball somewhere. Whatever the case, if you leave the ball up, they're going to hit it.\"
\r\n
\r\nJones spent a majority of the season tweaking his mechanics and working with Nardi Contreras, the Yankees' Minor League Pitching Coordinator, to lengthen his stride in order to gain some velocity on his fastball while testing a couple of different grips with his changeup in order to maximize his potential. For Jones, his 2005 season wasn't about piling up the stats but rather his first real opportunity to take one step back in order to eventually take two steps forward.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've had some ups and downs, some good outings and some bad,\" Jones told us towards the end of the year. \"Lately I've been trying to work on some things, trying to throw a little harder with my mechanics. But overall I'm pretty happy. Of course its not where I want to be. I just kept working with Pav [Tampa Pitching Coach Greg Pavlik] and I think I made a lot of strides this past season with my changeup and pitches like that. I just haven't been able to bring it all together.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe hard part for passive followers of prospects to remember is that the minor leagues is a system to work on a player's weaknesses and not necessarily a \"tryout\" for the Major Leagues. The majority of minor leaguers who become quality Major League players are the ones that iron out the wrinkles to their game in the minor leagues instead of at the Major League level.
\r\n
\r\nDespite the seemingly dreadful numbers he posted in 2005 - numbers which were skewed with a cold stretch at the end of the year - Jones is as confident as ever in his ability. He realizes the type of pitcher he is and he knows what he needs to do to realize his ultimate goal of reaching the big leagues.
\r\n
\r\n\"I know I'm a ground ball pitcher,\" Jones told PinstripesPlus.com. \"I try to get a lot of ground balls and that helps my pitch count out a lot. Sometimes I'd rather walk a guy than throw non-quality pitches. If I'm still throwing quality pitches, I'll do that rather than walk a guy. I'd rather throw a quality pitch and get a guy to swing at it though.\"
\r\n
\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n

\r\n \r\n Year

Team

\r\n

\r\n W-L

\r\n

\r\n IP

\r\n

\r\n H

\r\n

\r\n BB

\r\n

\r\n SO

\r\n

\r\n ERA

\r\n

\r\n 2005

\r\n

\r\n Tampa

\r\n

\r\n 5-13

\r\n

\r\n 128.1

\r\n

\r\n 171

\r\n

\r\n 20

\r\n

\r\n 76

\r\n

\r\n 5.68

\r\n

\r\n 2004

\r\n

\r\n Battle \r\n Creek

\r\n

\r\n 3-1

\r\n

\r\n 31.1

\r\n

\r\n 38

\r\n

\r\n 3

\r\n

\r\n 19

\r\n

\r\n 2.87

\r\n

\r\n 2004

\r\n

\r\n Staten \r\n Island

\r\n

\r\n 2-3

\r\n

\r\n 48.0

\r\n

\r\n 42

\r\n

\r\n 3

\r\n

\r\n 27

\r\n

\r\n 2.44


\r\n
\r\nRepertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Slider, Changeup.
\r\n
\r\nFastball. Jason Jones has made impressive strides with his fastball from his days in high school in college. Once only able to top out around 84 MPH with his fastball, Jones now sits in the 88-92 MPH range with his 2-seam and 4-seam fastballs. Jones considers his 2-seam fastball, a pitch more in the 88-90 MPH range, his second best pitch behind his slider. It has real good sinking action and the majority of his fastballs are 2-seamers, the main reason he's predominantly a ground ball pitcher. The Yankees believe that Jones, a big-bodied pitcher, has the potential to throw harder and they have been working on lengthening his stride on the mound to use his strong lower body more with powerful leg drives to gain a few extra ticks on his fastball.
\r\n
\r\nOther Pitches. Jones's best pitch is his devastating slider. It has excellent late breaking action that tails away from right-handed batters and in on lefties. His slider sits in the 81-83 MPH range. Jones compliments his slider and fastball with a decent curveball that averages about 73-75 MPH. He completes his repertoire with a developing changeup, a pitch that has been the focus of he and the Yankees' pitching coaches since the Instructional Leagues in 2004. His changeup, which averages about 81-83 MPH, has become a more solid pitch for him over the last year or so and there's still plenty of room for improvement with it.
\r\n
\r\nPitching. Jones is all about tremendous control and impeccable command of his pitches, locating pitches in all four quadrants of the plate. He rarely walks batters and forces would-be hitters to put the ball in play and allow his defense behind him to make the necessary plays. Jones will not pile up the high strikeout totals and because he's always in the zone with his pitches, he'll give up a few more hits than most pitchers. Jones goes right after batters and mixes up his pitches to keep opposing batters off-balance, throwing off their timing much in the same manner as Greg Maddux. He also works very quickly on the mound and doesn't allow hitters to get comfortable at the plate.
\r\n
\r\nProjection. Jones' numbers in 2005 are not an indication of the type of pitcher is nor will be down the road. He is much better than his late-season collapse showed. If the Yankees and Jones can clean up his mechanics to allow him to throw harder and he can make some more improvements with his changeup, Jones could once again display the type of success he had in his professional debut in 2004. Because he is always in the strike zone with his pitches, he's able to keep his pitch counts low and work deep into games. Big-bodied and strong, Jones is an innings eater and projects to be a solid starting pitcher down the road. He doesn't have the blazing fastball to be a frontline starting pitcher, but he projects to be a solid backend starter in a Major League rotation.
\r\n
\r\nETA. 2008. Jones' struggles this past season could possibly give him a ticket back to the Florida State League in 2006, but the quality and depth of the starting pitching prospects could force the Yankees to send Jones to AA next year despite the sub-par year last season. If Jones finds himself in Trenton next season, his timetable could get pushed up a little sooner. As it stands right now however, the safer bet is seeing Jason Jones get his chance in the Majors by 2008.
\r\n
\r\n_____________________________________________________
\r\n
\r\nSubscribe 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 Scout.com Websites, and Player Pages, detailing the progress and careers of players from high school, the minors, and the pro ranks.
\r\n
\r\nSample the PinstripesPlus.com Total Access Pass™ at no risk for 7 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.
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