A year ago today the Pittsburgh Pirates were fresh off their trade that sent left fielder Nyjer Morgan to the Washington Nationals, with Lastings Milledge coming back to the Pirates. Due to Milledge being injured at the time, and the Nate McLouth trade one month earlier, the Pirates only had Brandon Moss and Andrew McCutchen as their outfielders. That prompted the call up of a minor league free agent who was having some success at the AAA level.
Following the Eric Hinske trade, which occured on June 30th, the same day as the Nyjer Morgan trade, the Pirates called up Garrett Jones. At the time, Jones was hitting for a .307/.348/.502 line in 277 at-bats with the Indianapolis Indians, including 12 homers. Here is what I had to say about Jones in my recap of the Hinske trade:
Garrett Jones gets the call from Indianapolis to replace Hinske. Jones has been solid at AAA this year, batting for a .307/.348/.502 line with 12 homers in 277 at-bats. Jones is a very interesting case. He’s only 27 years old, and has very limited time in the majors. That’s mostly because he was blocked in Minnesota by Justin Morneau.
In his career at AAA (which spans over 2200 at-bats), Jones has a .265/.321/.463 line with a homer every 23.84 ABs. However, in the last three seasons he’s hit for a .286/.339/.484 line, an improvement over his first two seasons at AAA where he combined for a .241/.299/.437 line.
Jones made his debut a year ago today, with an 0-for-4 performance and one strikeout. One day later, Jones went 3-for-5 with a double, a triple, and a home run. It was just the start of his amazing month of July, which saw him hit for a .310/.361/.700 line with ten homers in 100 at-bats. Jones cooled off a bit the remainder of the season, but not too much. In August and September he hit for a .285/.376/.505 line with 11 homers in 214 at-bats.
All along the way there were questions on whether Jones was legit, even starting after his first week in the majors, which was enough time for him to hit for a .296/.345/.667 line and two homers. So far in the 2010 season Jones has hit for a .284/.356/.449 line, with ten homers in 285 at-bats. That’s easily a 20 home run season, although it might represent a bit of a disappointment due to the lofty expectations before the season.
It’s now been a complete season for Jones, and in his 599 at-bats during that time he’s put up a .289/.364/.511 line with 31 homers. Not bad at all for a guy who one year ago today was just another minor league free agent getting a shot at the big leagues.