After all, they pulled a body type they’re very familiar with (massive, toolsy outfielder who’s massive with a massive frame) from a trusted academy (Vanderbilt typically gets the job done) whose pre-draft stats looked exactly like Aaron Judge’s.
Most analysts did not seem to agree with the Yankees’ predilection for Jones — at least, not so early. But what do the Yankees look for in the draft, time and time again? Advanced college bats and familiarity. This year, they just so happened to find what they were looking for at a more mainstream school like Vandy instead of digging deeper and nabbing someone out of, say, Eastern Illinois.
Though it’s obscenely early, initial returns on Jones’ bat seem extremely positive. He might’ve been viewed among the rawest first-round talents selected over the All-Star Break, but he’s still rocketed to full-season ball just a few days after his debut.
According to the transaction wire, Jones is riding a 5-for-10 start to his pro career up to Low-A Tampa, alongside fellow 2022 draft picks Brett Barrera (8th round out of Stanford) and Tayler Aguilar (15th round out of Grand Canyon University). All three fast risers are position players.
Yankees first-round pick Spencer Jones, 2022 draftees Tayler Aguilar and Brett Barrera join Low-A Tampa
Jones’ gaudy numbers (three singles, a bomb, a double, two stolen bases and a Matt Carpenter-esque 1.445 OPS) made it obvious he’d joined the system with an advanced-enough approach to deserve a few weeks of full-season ball. FCL pitchers will thank the Yankees with a fruit basket, probably.
He’ll now join Rachel Balkovec’s squad, who was instrumental in getting fellow tooled-up outfielder Jasson Dominguez on track this year, as well as “breakout” candidate Antonio Gomez, who began the season lost in April, but has posted a .364 average and .990 OPS as a 20-year-old in July.
Not only will Jones get a fresh opportunity to cap his whirlwind 2022, but being in full-season ball means eagle-eyed prospect watchers will now get a chance to peep his Statcast data from his work in Tampa (and at the adjoining FSL ballparks, which double as Spring Training sites).
Despite his high-level collegiate experience, Jones is still a project, even though he’ll likely tear the cover off the ball when he makes his best contact. Practice patience, but celebrate the milestones — and this is a fun one.
And don’t sleep on Barrera, either, an advanced collegiate bat who seems very ready for the challenge. If you liked Cooper Bowman and TJ Rumfeld, you might love him, too.