Detroit Tigers Prospects

Detroit Tigers Top Prospect #5: JaCoby Jones

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Aug 20, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers hat and glove in the dugout against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 20, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers hat and glove in the dugout against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Versatile, athletic and talented, JaCoby Jones has a bright future for the Detroit Tigers.

#20 Artie Lewicki             #19 Drew Smith                   #18 Austin Kubitza            #17 Josh Turley                       #16 Montreal Robertson           #15 Jairo Labourt                               #14 Steven Moya                   #13 Adam Ravenelle                #12 Wynton Bernard                   #11 Paul Voelker                   #10 Dixon Machado                       #9 Kevin Ziomek                  #8 Christian Stewart              #7 Spencer Turnbull          #6 Mike Gerber 

The Detroit Tigers struggled in 2015—that much is true. However, despite the fact that the team lost 87 games and traded away impact players at the trade deadline, there are silver linings to be had.

Many of the prospects acquired for David Price, Yoenis Cespedes and Joakim Soria have the potential to be part of the Tigers’ team for years. Daniel Norris and Michael Fulmer are frontline starting pitchers waiting to happen, while Matt Boyd and Jairo Labourt could fill rotation spots down the line. Luis Cessa, who arrived via the Cespedes trade, was dealt to the Yankees in a trade for shutdown reliever Justin Wilson.

In addition to the haul of pitchers, Detroit also brought in Jones. The versatile defender has appeared in center field and at shortstop and third base in his minor-league career.

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A third-round draft pick in the 2013 draft, Jones was recently suspended 50-games for a “drug of abuse.” However, general manager Al Avila recently was quoted at TigerFest by ESPN’s Katie Strong as saying, “It’s just a process of a young kid making a mistake and learning… He’ll get some help and bounce back and hopefully he’ll learn from the mistake and be fine down the road.” Avila also said that, “we expect him to learn from his mistake and we expect him to move forward without any issues.” The Tigers clearly believe in Jones, and the fact that he was invited to Major League Spring Training only confirms that.

Stats So Far

Since being drafted in 2013, Jones has climbed all the way to Double-A. In his first pro season, he played in 15 games for the Pirates’ short-season Single-A team. The 23-year-old hit .311 with 14 runs scored in 15 games He also added 10 RBI, three stolen bases, two doubles, two triples and a home run.

Following that campaign, Jones was promoted, and excelled at Single-A. During his lone season at the level, the infielder hit .288 with 23 home runs, 70 RBI, 72 runs scored, 21 doubles, 17 stolen bases and three triples in 117 games played.

In addition to the trade to the Detroit Tigers, the 2015 season saw two more promotions for Jones. Across 133 games, the former Pittsburgh farmhand posted a .257 batting average while mashing 25 doubles, five triples, and 16 home runs. He added 80 RBI, 76 scored runs and 25 stolen bases from the shortstop position.

Skillset 

Aug 4, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Kansas City Royals left fielder Ben Zobrist (18) hits a sacrifice fly to score second baseman Omar Infante (not pictured) in the fifth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 4, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Kansas City Royals left fielder Ben Zobrist (18) hits a sacrifice fly to score second baseman Omar Infante (not pictured) in the fifth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

JaCoby Jones is a very similar player to Ben Zobrist in the sense that both can excel at multiple positions while bringing the potential to post strong home run and RBI totals. The main difference is that Jones has a bit of a strikeout problem (311 in 265 career minor-league games) and the Detroit prospect is much more of a base-stealing threat than Zobrist was.

Baseball Prospectus writes that Jones “combined good speed with good jumps and has 30-steal potential.”

There’s obviously some tremendous potential when you take that speed into account to go along with Jones’ raw power that has so far led to 40 home runs and 160 RBI in 165 games.

Future Role

A Zobrist-esque role could await the prospect with the Tigers. Some combination of Jose Iglesias, Dixon Machado and Ian Kinsler figure to occupy the middle-infield positions in Detroit for the better part of the next decade. This will likely prevent Jones from playing up the middle on a regular basis.

However, the former Pittsburgh draftee’s “plus athleticism” (per MLB.com) should allow him to play a number of different positions.

Long term, third base and centerfield could be possibilities for Jones if Nick Castellanos doesn’t improve, or Derek Hill fails to impress.

Next: More Tigers: Detroit One RP Away From Elite Bullpen

Whatever position JaCoby Jones plays, he will likely be part of the Detroit Tigers’ future based on his talent. If he can cut down on his strikeouts, he can be a star.

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