JaCoby Jones stood out in the Detroit Tigers first exhibition game. Can he provide an impact at some point this season? The answer is a definite yes.
JaCoby Jones’ name has been associated with intrigue ever since he was brought in via trade last July. Acquired in a straight-swap for Joakim Soria from the Pittsburgh Pirates, Jones can play a number of different positions on the diamond due to his elite athleticism. He also is a threat to post 20-20 or 30-30 home run/stolen base numbers thanks to power and speed.
Good, because so are the Tigers.
Jones would probably be a dark horse to make the team out of Spring Training if not for a 50 game suspension for a drug of abuse. However, he’s still in Spring Training and participating in games. The versatile fielder came through at the plate, hitting a three-run, tie-breaking home run to help beat Florida Southern College on Monday.
Obviously it is a small sample size, but it’s a good start for Jones. You also can’t really teach power, and the 23-year-old has plenty of that. In 265 minor league games, he’s accumulated 40 home runs in addition to 48 doubles. MLB.com, which ranks him as the organization’s eighth best prospect, writes that Jones “has a ton of raw power and extra-base ability, capable of driving the ball to all fields.”
Here at Motor City Bengals, we’re a little more bullish on him, rating the slugger as the fifth-best prospect in the Detroit organization.
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Regardless, the fact remains that Jones has an intriguing skillset—not to mention potential. Originally a shortstop, the player’s athleticism should allow him to play just about any position on the diamond with at least solid upside on defense. This could mean he becomes the long-term solution at a position-to-be-determined, or transitions into a Ben Zobrist-type role that sees him fill in all over the place.
Either way, the potential is there.
The Tigers clearly believe in him, and the fact that they invited him to Spring Training only reinforces that. If Jones can continue to produce in exhibition games, he could put himself in a position to potentially start the year at Triple-A once his suspension is completed. If that’s the case, a call up later in the season can’t be counted out.
Jones has the potential to have a similar impact to that of Mike Aviles on defense in terms of backing up multiple positions and providing a bench presence. However, Detroit may not want to throw him into the deep end at positions he hasn’t played before—at least at first.
A lot will depend on where the Tigers chose to play him in Spring Training. If he’s used at a number of positions in exhibition games, you can bet he’ll do the same when he reaches Motown.
Offensively, the power will be on display as well. He won’t light the world on fire in his first go around in the bigs, few rookies do, but he has a chance to make a difference with his defensive flexibility and power.
This is all without mentioning his speed, which could come in handy in pinch-running situations down the stretch.
JaCoby Jones is simply too talented for the Tigers to ignore. If he’s producing in the minors later in the season, Detroit shouldn’t hesitate in calling him up—regardless of what the team’s record is. Jones can be a difference maker.