(photo credit: Robin Black)

JaCoby Jones Named Best Shortstop in the SAL, Returns From Disabled List

The West Virginia Power have activated shortstop JaCoby Jones from the disabled list, placing infielder Adam Landecker on the disabled list to open up a roster spot. This comes at the same time that Jones was named by MiLB.com as the best shortstop in the South Atlantic League for the 2014 season.

Jones returns to the lineup with five games left and still has a chance to become the first Pittsburgh Pirates minor league player to reach the 20/20 mark in homers and stolen bases since Adam Boeve accomplished that during the 2007 season. Jones has a .292/.353/.502 slash line in 114 games, with 22 homers and 17 steals. He is second in the SAL in homers, fourth in OPS and fifth in slugging.

The Power also announced that reliever Brett McKinney has been promoted to Bradenton. The 23-year-old righty has a 2.20 ERA in 49 innings over 37 appearances, with 48 strikeouts and a .205 BAA. No other roster move for Bradenton has been announced yet.



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John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

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  • deacs

    John, can you think of anyone with a really awful K/BB ratio that’s turned it around to something acceptable and made his way to the majors? Any major leaguers come to mind? I want to get excited about Jones but he’s not exactly 18 years old.

    • Jared

      I will give you one, although it is slightly different for another reason, but another Jones had a similar problem: Adam Jones. In A ball he k’d 112 times and walked only 51 times and had a .370 OBP. JaCoby’s stats are a little more skewed and he’s also older at the level, but has a .353 OBP. But that is one example of a player, although not as bad as JaCoby.

      • deacs

        I’ll take any sort of comparison to Adam Jones. Thanks.

        • Jared

          Maybe Brandon Crawford is a better comparison player. A 4th round college bat, although from UCLA and a former UCLA team MVP. He didn’t spend a ton of time in A-ball…but between A and AA he had over 130ks and only 30bb in over 490 ABs. A bb% around 6% and k-rate of 26%. He’s not a superstar by any means but is a productive type MLB player.

          • NMR

            Good find!

            Although that unfortunately personifies our worries. Brandon Crawford is a utility player at best with Jacoby Jones’ defense.

            • Andrew

              Pretty sure Brandon Crawford is an average major league starting shortstop.

              • michaelbro8

                Maybe…. He’s pretty much lost his starting job with SF

                • Andrew

                  Too who? Crawford has started 20/25 games in August and is averaging 500 PAs over the last three seasons.

                  • michaelbro8

                    According to Yahoo Sports: “Giants manager Bruce Bochy reminded reporters before the game that he prefers a more traditional, hit-behind-the-runners type of hitter in the No. 2 slot in his batting order. He feels he now has one such guy in rookie second baseman Joe Panik, who batted second Thursday.

                    Crawford wasn’t in the starting lineup for the second consecutive game. Bochy cautioned not to read too much into it.

                    The switch-hitter has been in a slump both offensively and defensively, and substitute shortstop Matt Duffy is making quite an impression on the Giants.”

                    • Andrew

                      You missed the whole, day-to-day with right shoulder soreness.

      • Andrew

        Adam Jones, had 147 major league plate appearances before the age of 22.

        • Jared

          I admitted the comparison was not apt because of age. I just threw out a player with similar BB/K numbers in A.

    • jalcorn427

      Some superb analysis of K and BB rate and prospect bust rates – http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2013/6/7/4402222/minor-league-baseball-walk-strikeout-rates-prospects

      Jacoby is in one of the worst brackets in that study (high K >22%, low BB<7% at A ball. In that group 0% became productive players and 89% of prospects busted. Now Jacoby is close to being above 7% BB rate, so if you move him into average BB rate the bust rate drops to 83%. Not good.

      • NMR

        Excellent reminder.

        I suppose everyone has a different definition, but its an awful stretch to call Jacoby Jones a “breakout” hitter.

    • John Dreker

      People have asked us why we haven’t rated Jones higher and it’s because it’s hard to find a 22-year-old in Low-A ball with a horrible BB/K ratio and K rate that went on to have MLB success. He definitely needs to show improvements in that area, plus work on his defense to remain at SS

  • Jared

    I would have to assume that ranking would be based on his offensive prowess in a D-first position? MiLB didn’t expand on it or anything just gave the ranking. It would be nice if someone thought Jones could realistically stick at SS.

    • NMR

      I don’t doubt the ranking is based on overall game, but prospects have to spend the majority of the season at a level to be included on these post season All Star teams.

      JP Crawford was the best shortstop in the SAL this year, but he was promoted halfway through the season.

  • R Edwards

    We can sit here and pick apart Jones’ season and dismiss it, because of K totals, his age, etc. But, when the Pirates drafted him they knew they were getting an unpolished baseball player who was a tremendous athlete with great potential.

    Its not his fault he got hurt last Summer and missed most of his season at Jamestown – I am sure that set him back. Its also not his fault he was kept in WV all year – when his production merited a promotion to Bradenton. But, Bradenton was overloaded with middle infielders. I get that.

    But, which of us, would have signed up for this kid hitting over 20 HRs in his first full season of pro ball, with a .280ish batting average? I expect he will start at Bradenton next Spring, and if he does well there – he hopefully is in Altoona mid-late Summer in 2015.

    Not everyone gets drafted out of high school – and some guys need more time to develop. As far as infielders are concerned in the system, he excites me more than any of them – and that includes Hansen and Tucker. How many shortstops have that much pop?

    Well earned JaCoby!

    As for JP Crawford, he’s the guy I wanted the Pirates to take after they took Meadows in the first round last year. Wasn’t he still available at #14? McGuire may end up being a good catcher, but great shortstop prospects are hard to find.

    • Jared

      If Jones is going to have a shot he will have to make it to AA by mid year next year I would guess. Remember guys Jordy Mercer was an advanced college bat and struggled his first season between low A and A-ball…22% k-rate and 6% bb

      • NMR

        In less than a half season sample.

    • NMR

      I would’ve much rather seen him struggle statistically while cleaning up his flawed swing than dominate kids younger than him using skills that aren’t likely to translate.

      • SteveW

        Beyond a “flawed swing” (or strike zone recognition), I think the bigger issue for JaCoby staying at WV was a need to work on defense. He is far from a great defensive SS. Not even average at this point and may never be.

        • NMR

          Frankly, Steve, I’d be surprised if anyone in the organization truly believed he’s a shortstop long term.

          He’s a freak athlete, so you either put him in CF or SS and there’s a greater organizational need for infielders than outfielders.

          Work him out at SS and you develop skills that can translate to 3rd or 2nd. I’m still optimistic he’s a neat utility guy at the big league level.

    • John Dreker

      I saw McGuire and Crawford play this year and I’d trade McGuire in a second for Crawford, plus throw in a B prospect. Crawford was the best player I’ve seen at Low-A this year and it was no surprise he got an early promotion to High-A. That’s not a knock against McGuire, it’s just to show how good Crawford was. I was hoping for him at the #14 pick, but had a strong feeling they were taking McGuire because they fell in love with him early in the year and watched him a lot…sort of like what happened this year with Tucker

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