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Jared Jones - Next One Up?

by J.T. Toth

Photo courtesy of Pirates Prospects.

In a season where the Pirates have given several top prospects the opportunity to play or pitch on a daily basis, starting pitcher Jared Jones appears to be the next one in line to make his professional debut.

Jones was a second round pick out of La Mirada High School in La Mirada, California by the Pirates in the 2020 MLB Draft. In his junior season in 2019, he was 7-0 with a 0.77 ERA and a fastball that touched 99 mph. If not for the Covid season of 2020, Jones would have been a first round pick. The Pirates lured him away from attending Texas by paying “above slot.”

He started his professional career playing in low-A for the Bradenton Marauders. He went 3-6 with a 4.64 ERA, but also struck out 103 hitters in only 66 innings. In 2022, the Pirates promoted him to high-A to play for Greensboro. His numbers once again did not jump off the paper or show his dominance. He went 5-7 with a 4.62 ERA but struck out more than one batter per inning, tallying 142 in 122.2 innings.

This past season, Jones started at AA playing for the Altoona Curve and after 10 starts and a 2.23 ERA he was promoted to AAA-Indianapolis. For a 22-year old starter in AAA, he has held his own. In 7 starts he is 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA and still continues to strike out more than a batter an inning (48 in 40 innings).

Jared Jones in the past week has been named a top 100 prospect in all of baseball by His fastball is a lethal weapon, one that he can use at any time in the count. His fastball’s movement is near-elite with above average movement that “runs away” from righthanders, and into lefthanders. He also throws a wide moving slider that is hard for hitters to square up. He was a two-way player in high school and is an athletic pitcher who fields his position and covers the bag well. He is ultra-competitive and has done better controlling his emotions on the mound.

If there is a negative to his game it would be his command at times. He has lowered his walk totals over the past couple of seasons but still misses his spots and puts the ball in the heart of the plate on occasion.

Jones has the makings of a top end starting pitcher in the majors. There is no need for the Pirates to rush him to “the show,” but Draft 412 thinks he may deserve a start or two late in the season. With Paul Skenes and Jared Jones possibly being added to the rotation in 2024, Pirates fans should be excited about what the future holds.

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