Pittsburgh Pirates: Ranking Ben Cherington's High School Draft Picks

Ben Cherington has taken at least one high school pitcher in the first four rounds of each of his drafts, but which ones are the best?
Bishop Eustace's pitcher Anthony Solometo celebrates after Bishop Eustace defeated Ocean City, 2-0,
Bishop Eustace's pitcher Anthony Solometo celebrates after Bishop Eustace defeated Ocean City, 2-0, / Chris LaChall/Courier-Post via Imagn
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Jared Jones

Jared Jones was the very first high school pitcher Ben Cherington took. The Pirates’ second-round pick in 2020, Jones has steadily risen throughout the minor leagues. He’s now considered one of the best prospects the Pirates have to offer, with most aggregates ranking him as a top 100 prospect.

Jones is coming off a season where he had a 3.85 ERA, 3.77 FIP, and 1.23 WHIP. The hard-throwing righty owned a 27.6% strikeout rate, as well as a good 0.85 HR/9 and 9.5% walk rate. Jones’ numbers might not jump off the page, but he spent much of the year at Triple-A Indy. The International League was extremely hitter-friendly as the league average OPS was .794, and the average ERA was 5.18.

Keep in mind that Jones was also just in his age-21 campaign. He was the second youngest pitcher in the International League to have started at least a dozen games. He had above-average numbers as well, despite having a 4.76 ERA, 3.98 FIP, and 1.32 WHIP.

Jones sits in the upper-90s and has hit 100 MPH before. Not only does Jones throw heat, but he also spins the ball great, giving it the rising fastball illusion. Jones throws a plus slider, as well as an above-average curveball. His changeup might be behind his other three offerings, but it has gotten better, and it’s an average pitch, at the very least. Jones’ control is getting better, but his command is lagging behind.

Still, Jones has electric stuff. Even if his command only gets to a fringe-average level, he’ll be a dominant starting pitcher. He’s been able to maintain high-octane velocity as a starter now for multiple seasons. I am excited to see how he takes the next step forward.