Spencer Jones' delayed 2024 debut was more than worth the wait

So far, so very good.
New York Yankees v Miami Marlins
New York Yankees v Miami Marlins / Rich Storry/GettyImages

Coming out of the minor-league gate, all Yankees eyes were on Spencer Jones, the über talented outfielder who stole the show at spring training this year in much the same way Jasson Dominguez did last season.

Did Jones have a similar chance to earn a September promotion to the bigs, if everything clicked? The odds were against him. He had plenty left to work on (reducing K rate, changing his approach to lift the ball more), and besides, Dominguez was only promoted because the big-league Yankees had faltered so hard. Jones' already minute chances were immediately reduced when he missed the season's first few games with what was determined to be a stiff neck; again, every rep lost could be crucial, especially for him.

Luckily, Jones returned and immediately quieted every worry about the effects of missing action; in his first week ball this season, he's torched Double-A with a pair of long home runs and a .423 average.

Of course, he's not just homering (though he is, uh, doing that and hitting them very far). As laid out nicely by Fireside Yankees, he's cut down his K rate significantly in the first week of action, just as he did in spring training (20.7% in 2024 after a 29% mark last season). He's also posted a patently absurd wRC+ of 227.

Sustainable? Of course not! An encouraging place to start, especially after opening the season on the shelf? Hard to imagine anything more encouraging! Maybe if he'd picked up a baseball and thrown seven shutout innings to go with it.

Yankees top prospect Spencer Jones mashing at Double-A after injury scare

Jones still has a significant portion of the mountain left to climb, sure, but what were your highest hopes for him to kick off the 2024 season? That he'd swiftly lay waste to Double-A pitching at an advanced level that quelled worries about his offseason approach shifts, resulting in a long look at Triple-A and a significant number of chances for him to overcome early stumbling blocks and correct flaws before being summoned in 2025? So far, so good.

Coming out of Vanderbilt, Jones' rawness was often ignored by rosier prospectors, given that the Aaron Judge similarities were impossible to ignore. Every whiff of pessimism was met with, "Yeah, but could he have gone to a more prepared organization?" It was reductive, sure, but it was nice to grasp onto.

Thus far, 2023 represented a predictable step back for an extremely athletic player with exploitable holes. In the offseason, he reentered the lab we'd placed so much faith into in the summer of 2022, and came out making significant strides in every correct direction.

Sorry to Somerset, a club that's staked a significant amount of their marketing efforts on Jones' presence (and Jersey Diners), but we've nearly seen enough to label him ready for Triple-A.