Jared Jones is one of the Pittsburgh Pirates best pitching prospects, but what level could he reach by the end of the 2022 season?
Jared Jones is one of the Pittsburgh Pirates best pitching prospects. The right-hander was an over-slot selection during the 2020 draft, signing for $2.2 million. He is a highly talented right-hander who showed promise in 2021, but what is the highest level we could see Jones in 2022?
Jones made his pro debut in 2021 with the Low-A Bradenton Marauders, where he had a 4.64 ERA,1.47 WHIP, and 3.91 FIP through 66 innings of work. Although those numbers might not jump off the page, they’re much better once you give some context.
Jones ran into some pretty bad luck. He had a .385 batting average on balls in play, the second-highest mark among any pitcher at Low-A Southeast with at least 50 innings pitched. Despite his poor BAbip, Jones had a solid 43.5% ground ball rate. He also struck out well over a third of batters faced (34.1%) while having a healthy 0.82 HR/9 rate. The only issue Jones ran into was an 11.3% walk rate. Jones’ poor luck is reflected in his 3.91 FIP and even more so in his 3.75 xFIP.
Jones has a big fastball that averages out in the upper-90’s. To go with that, he has a great slider, above-average curveball, and solid change-up that is showing improvement. This pitch mix gives him the future outlook of a starting pitcher. The biggest issue many had with Jones was his command, but he showed some improvement in 2021.
This season the talented right-hander is projected to take up a spot in Greensboro’s rotation. That’s the High-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates . Given Jones’s talent, we may see him move through the system a bit quicker. The new regime has been more willing to give talented prospects promotions.
Is it out of the question that we see Jones end the year at Triple-A Indianapolis? Well, the Pirates did move another highly talented right-hander from High-A to Triple-A in 2021, that being Carmen Mlodzinski. After a solid showing with Greensboro, Mlodzinski got a brief cameo at Indy in late September.
However, the difference between Mlodzinski and Jones is a three-year age gap. Jones is going into his age-20 season. Meanwhile, Mlodzinski is going into his age-23 campaign. A more apt comparison once you factor in age is Quinn Priester, who started his age-20 season at Greensboro. Although Priester remained at Greensboro for all of 2021, he also got off to a slow start to the season. Does Jones get to see Altoona and possibly a cameo at Indianapolis if he gets off to a hot start? Possibly.
So while Jared Jones may reach Triple-A, it wouldn’t be for anything more than five innings at the very end of the season. Jones will likely spend most of the season at Greensboro. If he continues to pitch well, we may see him get a late-season promotion to Altoona and possibly that brief look at Indianapolis.