Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospect Jared Jones made his Triple-A debut on Tuesday, so how did he look in his first game for Indianapolis?
Pittsburgh Pirates top pitching prospect Jared Jones made his debut at Triple-A on Tuesday. The hard-throwing right-hander was a second round pick in 2020 and has made major strides this season. After a strong start to the season at Altoona, Jones was then promoted to the highest level of the minor leagues.
In his debut, Jones tossed 5.2 innings, allowing three earned runs, but struck out five batters with just two free passes allowed. Jones had left the game in the 6th inning with two outs, but the bases loaded. Daniel Zamora proceeded to walk three consecutive batters, which is why Jones was charged with three earned runs. But let’s take a deep dive into how his stuff looked in his debut
Jones is known for throwing a big fastball, and he showed it off in his debut. Jones averaged out at 96.2 MPH, which is typical for him. He topped out at 98.8 MPH as well. Not only did Jones throw with elite speed, but he did so with elite spin. His four-seamer averaged out at 2497 RPM of spin. That sits somewhere in the 90th-92nd percentile of major league fastball spin rate and in the 90th percentile of fastball velocity.
While Jones was originally drafted throwing a slider, he’s since worked it into a cutter, adding more velocity while keeping a similar shape. Jones threw this pitch at 90 MPH on the dot. He also topped out at 92 MPH exactly. Jones throws with a lot of spin on his breaking offerings, and his cutter averaged out at 2549 RPM.
The sinker was Jones’ third most used offering in his debut. He threw this right around as hard as he threw his cutter, averaging out at 90.6 MPH. Pitch tracking data picked up his four-seamer as a sinker a couple of times, so there are some major outliers in his max numbers. Based on the spin and velocity he typically throws at, Jones topped out at 90.2 MPH and 1694 RPM.
Jones’ curveball is his slowest offering, coming in at just 80.5 MPH on average. But like with his cutter, there’s a ton of spin here. Jones averaged out at 2704 RPM, which would have put him around the 77th-78th percentile in curveball spin rate in the big leagues.
Jones fooled batters all game. In total, batters swung and missed 43% of the time against his pitches. His sinker induced the most swings and misses with six, though his four-seamer also had five. On top of that, he got 14 called strikes. In total, he had 31 called+swinging strikes, for a CSW% of 35%.
This is where there will be some subjectivity. When the Pirates drafted Jones, his ability to command his stuff was going to be the big sticking point in his development. The talent and ability was there, but Jones was a bit wild in his first professional season. His control has moved in the right direction, but so has his command. Based on watching him pitch in his Triple-A debut, Jones seemed to have little trouble consistently hitting his spots, or at least coming close to hitting his spots. While he wasn’t Greg Maddux out there, he never got wild, and only missed by a lot a few times.
Jones dominating in his first Triple-A game is very promising. It really gives the Pirates a potential starting pitcher who could make a significant impact in 2024. There's a good chance he makes his debut at the end of this season.