Written by: Ian Smith (@FlaSmitty)
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As we draw closer to the 2020 MLB Draft, college level prospects have dominated most conversations. From Spencer Torkelson to Austin Martin to the ridiculously deep starting pitching talent, this may be the best collegiate class we’ve seen throughout the past few years.
The problem is, it’s easy to assume that a deep college class means this season’s prep class is lacking, and I just don’t think that’s the case. Of course we have the top tier talents in Zac Veen, Robert Hassell III, Mick Abel and Ed Howard who should see their names at the top of big boards, but it’s the next tier of preps that really show the talent in this class.
Our own Mason McRae recently published an article on Florida prep outfielder Dylan Crews, who’s one of the high schoolers in that next tier. Today, I want to bring you one of the best two way players in the 2020 class. A talent special enough to change your entire draft strategy in order to select. Enter Jared Jones.
Jared Jones – RHP/OF HT- 6’2 / WT-180lb.
La Mirada HS (CA) Commitment- Texas
My Big Board – #27
Jones is one of the more accomplished prep prospects in recent memory. A multiple year member of Team USA, a Perfect Game 10 and All American, and one of the best overall players in the state of California. His numbers throughout 3+ seasons at La Mirada High School while playing both ways are just a sight for sore eyes.
Pitching- 180.1 IP, 20-6, 0.89 ERA, 255/78 K:BB, 7 CG, 1 perfect game
Batting- 101 G, .394/.473/.566, 112 H, 32 XBH, 59 RBI, 34 SB
Jared Jones is the 2019 Perfect Game/Rawlings National High School Two-Way Player of the Year!
Congrats, @jared_jones_17! 🏆
— Perfect Game USA (@PerfectGameUSA) June 21, 2019
I know these are high school stats, but this is the type of player who can attain 50+ grades on any tool he has on the diamond, regardless of offense or defense.
Let’s start with what he brings in the field and with the bat.
Seeing Jones uncork throws from the outfield that have touched triple digits with accuracy has probably been one of my favorite things to this 2020 scouting season. He doesn’t need to overextend to display double plus arm strength. It’s among one of the best arms in the entire class. A capable runner who ran 6.75 at Perfect Game Nationals and has shown instincts to play in either corner of the outfield. He could also use his plus arm and athleticism to play at third base at the next levels if necessary.
Jared Jones RHP/OF from Whittier, CA USC commit ties the National Showcase record at 100mph from the outfield! pic.twitter.com/6Lw2ozl6ni
— PG Showcases (@PGShowcases) June 11, 2019
At the plate, the consensus top-50 draft prospect showcases a lot to dream on. A quiet, upright approach from the right side lets Jones create easy loft with his swing. He brings the barrel through the zone from a deep load with plus hand speed and bat control that’s among the best in the high school ranks. He uses his lower half well by incorporating an on time toe tap mechanism to his swing that shows a chance at 60+ raw power in his future. He has shown a slight swing and miss aspect to his game with the high fastball, but rarely misses a mistake pitch. He also consistently showed exit velos in the 95-100 range while on the national circuit last year showing that his bat may really have some staying power. This is the type of bat that could be a 50 hit, 60 power threat if he continued to develop as a hitter. Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to be the case.
Because Jones possesses SP1 upside on the mound.
For those working on your 2020 draft boards… Jared Jones, RHP, La Mirada. Touched 99 in the first, battled command throughout, but K’d 7 in 6 innings and had a huge day at the plate….. #USC #MLBDraft pic.twitter.com/MdI5zjVmj2
— Steve Fiorindo (@SoCalSteve9) May 13, 2019
The right-hander gives you so much to love when he’s on the mound, and it may be getting overlooked.
Now standing at 6-foot-2, 180 lbs., Jones has been knocked for not having the ideal size and frame of a true starting pitcher, but his delivery and athleticism make that irrelevant in my eyes. Also possessing undoubted athleticism, we can easily assume he should add at least 10-15 pounds of muscle as a professional to officially put the ‘size’ concerns to rest.
He commands a presence on the mound that feels a lot bigger than his frame. He utilizes a high, athletic leg kick that allows him to find high end velocity with ease. The body control he shows on rubber is advanced beyond his years; it’s also the reason I think his control has such a high ceiling. He messes with hitters’ timing reminiscent of Marcus Stroman and also has a sneaky quick pitch that can frustrate even his best opponents. His arm action from a three quarters slot is impressive to watch. He sometimes can overthrow his secondaries, which has led to some lower command grades among evaluators. He gets great extension on delivery, making sure he uses every bit of his frame. There is some freakish speed and whipping action to his arm that is a tad worrisome from a reliever/injury standpoint, but his durability throughout his career hasn’t wavered and repeatability is the least of my worries with Jones.
With the majority of his senior high school season being canceled, Jones has been working out at a pitching academy in California to help further his arsenal and perfect his mechanics, as you can see here.
— 12sixacademy (@12sixacademy) April 15, 2020
His pitch repertoire is as impressive as his makeup, boasting a four seam, slider, curveball and changeup. Jones can spin all four of those pitches at a high rate while throwing them for strikes. Each member of the fastball/slider combo have plus-grade potential, and all four pitches already flash above average qualities. He’s seen the fastball hit 99 on the radar gun with an elite spin rate, using his extension and decent (not perfect) spin efficiency to elevate the pitch up-in-the-zone throughout outings. Jones’ slider and curveball both show great shape and complement the fastball extremely well by mixing speeds. The one pitch that isn’t currently at the same level as the others is the changeup. It sits at 89-93 and shows potential if he can learn to command it as well as he throws the rest of his arsenal.
With a special thanks to Burke Granger and everyone at the 2080 Baseball team for their work in the film scouting, let’s look at Jones’ start at the NSHI last year against IMG academy. It’s some of the best film out of any player in the entire 2020 class, and it shows the true, special potential in his right arm.
Let’s start with the Four Seam – 93-96 T99
Slider – 80-83
That film was pulled from a 2019 outing (Jones’ junior season) versus one of the best lineups in the country featuring Rece Hinds, Josh Rivera and Kyle Westfall among others. Jones actually took the loss in this game to a masterful performance from 2019 first rounder Brennan Malone, but the talent is overwhelmingly obvious. The right-hander is a fierce competitor, and he’s often at his best versus the best competition he faces. That’s something you just can’t teach.
I’d stack Jared Jones up against prep pitcher in this 2020 class and feel completely comfortable doing so. For now, I see him as a prep JT Ginn with an even higher ceiling. The right-hander was a verbal commit to USC before switching his pledge to Texas last October, but this is a bonafide first round talent that organizations should be willing to go overslot in order to sign. Jones is a type of player that gives you all the reasons to reach higher than expected.
Follow P365 Prospect Analyst Ian Smith on Twitter! @FlaSmitty
Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365
Featured image courtesy of photographer Luis Sinco and the Los Angeles Times