JaCoby Jones Could Be the Pirates Future at Short


Certain things are almost guaranteed to get a prospect noticed. Typically, leading the minor league system in home runs is a great place to start. When that power is coupled with a decent amount of speed, even better. Then, if that power and speed combination happens to belong to a middle infielder, then it is time to truly take notice. That may be exactly what the Pirates have in shortstop prospect JaCoby Jones.

The Pirates third round pick in the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft, Jones broke out with the West Virginia Power last year. Overall, Jones produced a .288/.347/.503 batting line, slugging 23 home runs while stealing 17 bases. His 132 strikeouts in 501 plate appearances are a bit of a concern, as are the nine times Jones was caught stealing, but the power and speed combination is there.

Even without cutting down on the strikeout rate, JaCoby Jones could well perform even better next season. Last year, he had a 13.9% line drive rate, far below the South Atlantic League average of 18.3%. Jones also had a rather high fly ball percentage of 34.0%, 8.2 points above the league average. Perhaps that high fly ball rate was due to trying to get lift on the ball for more power, but Jones could truly continue to take off with a level swing.

Another aspect where Jones could show improvement is on the basepaths. While Jones is certainly a five tool player, he still needs to find a way to translate that speed to the basebpaths. That 65.4% success rate he had last year is far too low for someone that has his natural talent. Chances are, Jones just needs to work on timing pitchers and picking his spots to run, working on being a more effective base stealer than looking at the volume.

The other possible concern with JaCoby Jones is finding a place for him in the field. Scouting Book, in its scouting report for him after the draft, suggested that Jones could end up as an outfielder, given his toolset. However, if Jones can stay at short, a player that is considered to have the potential to turn into an All-Star caliber player could well turn into a special player at short.

With Jeong-ho Kang and Jordy Mercer, the Pirates won’t need to worry about shortstop for some time. if JaCoby Jones continues to develop, they may not have to worry about short for even longer.