Pittsburgh Pirates: Previewing High-A Greensboro’s Potential Starting Rotation
By Noah Wright
Greensboro’s rotation will hold many pitching prospects from the 2020 draft, starting with right-hander Jared Jones. The high school pick brings a lot of velocity and talent to the system, and he’s arguably one of the Pirates’ best pitching prospects and had a promising season at Bradenton in 2021.
Now granted, a 4.64 ERA, 11.3% walk rate, or 1.47 WHIP isn’t all that great. But these were the only poor numbers to his 2021 season. But the right-hander had a very solid 3.91 FIP, 3.75 xFIP, and .82 HR/9. He also had a 34.1% strikeout rate, the 6th best rate at Low-A in at least 50 innings.
So what was the issue with Jones? He had a .385 batting average on balls in play, despite having a solid 43.5% ground ball rate, 35.5% flyball rate, and 21% line-drive rate. His BAbip was the 7th highest in all of Low-A last season. Had it not been for this, he would have likely had an ERA somewhere between 3.50-2.3.75.
What makes Jones so talented is his pitching arsenal. He is a flamethrower with a great slider, and both offerings already sit at above-average before he turns 21years-old. The two pitches also project to be 60-grade offerings. He also throws a curveball that is another offering with plus potential and an average change-up. Command is his only question mark, but four average to elite offerings should make him one of the Pirates’ potential long-term starters.
Jones will still be very young, even for High-A. It will be his age-20 season, but the Pittsburgh Pirates haven’t shied away from promoting their young players. Both Priester and top shortstop prospect Liover Peguero were in their age-20 seasons when they debuted. With the Pirates being more aggressive than previously when it came to moving prospects up the system and how Jones handled Low-A batters, age would be the only possible reason to keep him down.