Few pitchers in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system have better pure stuff and a higher upside than right-handed pitcher Jared Jones. This makes him a breakout prospect for the Pirate farm system in 2023.
The 2020 MBL Draft was Ben Cherington's first as general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was also a draft unlike any other in MLB history. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, scouting players for the 2020 draft was extremely challenging.
One of the players that Cherington and the Pittsburgh Pirates selected in the 2020 draft was right-handed pitcher Jared Jones. Jones was selected by the Pirates with the 44th overall pick in the draft, and now he is in line for a breakout campaign in 2023.
Jones spent the entirty of the 2022 seaosn with the High-A Greensboro Grasshoppers. In 26 starts, he pitched 122.1 innings posting a 4.62 ERA and a 4.85 FIP. While these numbers are higher than you would like to see, he posted a strong 26.7% strikeout rate. His biggest issues were a 9.6% walk rate and a home run rate of 1.39 HR/9.
With the Grasshoppers, Jones finished the season strong. Control has always been a big question mark for Jones, but in his final six starts of the season his walk rate was just 7.1%. Combine this with a still strong 24.0% strikeout rate, and his ERA in these six starts was just 3.12.
His stuff has never been a question with Jones. He primarily throws a fastball, slider, curveball trio, while also mixing in a changeup. FanGraphs gives his fastball a future value (FV) of 60 while giving both his slider and curveball an FV of 55. MLB Pipeline rates his fastball as a 60 grade pitch, while his slider is a 55-grade pitch and curveball 50.
As for his changeup, like many young pitchers, it continues to develop. FanGraphs gives it an FV of 40 and MLB Pipeline has it as a 50 grade pitch. So, while the pitch still needs improvement, there is clearly potential there.
Jones will turn 22 in August. After logging a complete season with High-A Greensboro in 2022, odds are, Jones will begin the 2023 season with Double-A Altoona. After finishing the 2022 season on a high note and trending upward, Jones could be in line for a breakout campaign this season. It would not be a surprise to see Jones unanimously viewed as one of the top pitching prospects in the Pirate farm system by this time next year.