Updated: Sep 1, 2018
Prospect: RHP, Connor Jones
Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft
The Stats As Of 7-18-2018
THE QUICK WRITE UP
This right here, this is the one. I've never been the biggest fan of Connor Jones. He's just boring. When the Cardinals drafted Jones he was coming off of a poor-ish season at Virginia. The prior year, he looked like a sure fire first round selection, but his Junior year was so bad that he fell out of the top three rounds for most scouting services. So, of course, the Cardinals selected Jones in the second round because of his heavy fastball that induces an appropriate amount of ground balls. Without getting into too much detail, it's worth noting that The University of Virginia ruins their pitchers. They make them conform to a pitching style. Most Virginia pitchers die out in the minors. It's a reputation that is built on facts. So, we know for a fact that Jones is never going to strike out a lot of batters. We know that he is going to struggle with repeating his mechanics and he is going to struggle with trying not tip his pitches.
But what I didn't expect is that Jones would be doing well enough at AA to warrant any type of attention. However, that's exactly what he is doing. How is he doing it? With that heavy fastball/sinker combo and a large amount of grounders. If he manages to clean himself up and utilize the curve ball to it's max he might end up being a Lance Lynn-type pitcher but on a shorter time line. I, however, do not think there is any way that happens and he is more than likely an interesting piece at the back end of the bullpen. But I've sold Jones short so far so maybe I'm doing it again.
WHY TO GET EXCITED
His fastball moves like a sinking bowling ball.
His curve ball has good break/drop in a 12/6 way and is harsh against lefties.
He's a ground ball machine.
Everything that he throws seems to move downward.
He's a good size at 6'3" and 210 pounds.
He's worked hard to iron out the mechanical changes and detriments that the University of Virginia forced him to abide by.
He got in great shape during the off season. He now looks relatively svelte where he once appeared a bit "doughy"
He could be a very good bullpen arm if he works through his ever-evolving mechanics.
WHY TO BE CAUTIOUS
Jones is my least favorite prospect on the Dirty 35 in a "it's not you it's me" kind of way.
His ceiling is limited even though his stuff his good.
A UVA product that had his development stunted by that University.
Mechanics lack repeatability.
He walks too many hitters.
Unless a drastic change is made in his approach against hitters, he's ceiling is that of the Seth Maness/Matt Bowman role.
His velocity has dipped substantially since his sophomore year in college. His fastball is going to sit in the low 90's and rarely grazes the mid 90's at this point.
I don't know, man. This is a tough one for me. I hate that he is in the Dirty 35 because he's kind of "whatever", you know? But the truth is that he has the realistic potential to pitch out of a major league bullpen in the next couple of years. Not everyone makes it to the major leagues and those that have a chance deserve a spot on the list. Especially with the Cardinals organization being somewhat thin, currently. Refer to the Matt Bowman/Seth Maness role comparison above. That's a real shame, too, because there was a time when he was in college that he had front of the rotation potential.
DON'T SEND YOUR CHILD TO THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA UNTIL THERE'S A COACHING CHANGE.
Thanks to Fangraphs for their statistical contribution.
Thanks For Reading!