It's not curious that the 24-year-old is getting another start in the majors. Just look at the way he began the year at Triple-A Albuquerque:
What's curious is that the Rockies don't have a place for him, at least at first glance. Elehuris Montero is off to a nice start at third base. C.J. Cron has first base on lockdown. Jurickson Profar and Kris Bryant are fixtures in the outfield corners, and Charlie Blackmon is still occupying DH. Apparently, though, Montero is a little banged up, and while it's not enough to send him to the IL, it is enough for the Rockies to require some extra depth in the coming days, according to The Denver Post.
We saw a little of Jones last year, when he was still with the Guardians. He showed a patient approach and the capacity for premium exit velocities. It's a skill set that we'd like to see get some run at Coors Field, and if not for a poor spring training, Jones might already be getting the third base at-bats instead of Montero.
"I saw an opportunity with a new team and a lot of new faces to go out and show who I could be and what I could do. Sometimes when you try to do too much, you end up with a lot of strikeouts," Jones said, before commenting on this latest opportunity. "The first time it was like I was a little kid, and now it's like this is my job, and I want to stay here."
It's probably going to take one of those corner men going on the IL for that to happen, particularly since the Rockies will need another pitcher sooner than later. But the point is that, given his home venue and former top prospect pedigree, Jones could still turn into a significant Fantasy asset and is worth monitoring whenever he's up in the big leagues.
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Five on the verge
(These are the prospects most worth stashing in redraft leagues.)
Brett Baty, 3B, Mets
2022 minors: .315 BA (362 AB), 19 HR, .943 OPS, 49 BB, 104 K
2023 minors: .333 BA (27 AB), 3 HR, 2 SB, 1.196 OPS, 6 BB, 8 K
The New York media has begun to stir, and the pressure is mounting for the Mets to call up Baty. It doesn't mean they have to act on it, of course, but when the murmurs come to a roar, we're usually right at the breaking point. And from a performance perspective, it would make sense. After going 0 for 3 Wednesday, Eduardo Escobar is batting .103 (4 for 39). Meanwhile, Baty went 3 for 5 with a home run and double in his second game back from a thumb injury Tuesday.
Escobar is 34, and his overall production last year was nothing to write home about. It made sense for the Mets to give him another look after he finished the year on a high note, but it's beginning to make less and less sense as the 23-year-old Baty continues to force the issue.
Vaughn Grissom, 2B, Braves
2022 majors: .291 BA (141 AB), 5 HR, 5 SB, .792 OPS, 11 BB, 34 K
2023 minors: .366 BA (41 AB), 1 HR, 2 SB, 1.043 OPS, 6 BB, 4 K
Grissom technically isn't a prospect anymore because he spent too much time in the majors last year, but he's still young and unproven enough for us to show him some love here. The expectation was that he'd win the shortstop job out of spring training, and judging from his early work at Triple-A Gwinnett, it would appear his bat is ready. His defense is still a work in progress, but with Orlando Arcia taking a pitch off the wrist Wednesday, further refinement may no longer be a luxury the Braves can afford.
X-rays were negative, but the bruising may still force Arcia to the IL. Even if it doesn't, the incident serves as a reminder that Grissom is just an injury away, be it at shortstop or second base. And he was a popular breakout pick prior to being optioned.
Sal Frelick, OF, Brewers
2022 minors: .331 BA (492 AB), 11 HR, 24 SB, .883 OPS, 52 BB, 63 K
2023 minors: .205 BA (39 AB), 1 3B, 1 2B, 3 SB, .577 OPS, 4 BB, 4 K
Joey Wiemer appears to be settling in as the Brewers right fielder while Garrett Mitchell continues to get the job done in center. Meanwhile, Frelick has struggled to get going at Triple-A. It's only a matter of time, of course. His hit tool is among the best in all the minors, and he hit .365 in 46 games at that same level last year. But the longer he takes to come around, the more settled everything will become at the big-league level, possibly requiring an injury for him to get the call. That's of course true for most of the prospects you might consider stashing right now, which is why Frelick still ranks high on this list for me. But while he might have been able to force his way in before, it doesn't appear so now.
2022 minors: 11-7, 3.83 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 167 IP, 33 BB, 218 K
2023 minors: 8 1/3 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 12 K
Since the Drey Jameson is ahead of Pfaadt in the pecking order. He was, after all, the one to step in for an injured Zach Davies and performed quite well in his first start. But Pfaadt bounced back nicely after a rough first outing at Triple-A Tacoma, allowing one earned run on two hits over 4 2/3 innings Saturday, and there's little reason to doubt he's the next man up now that Jameson has assumed a spot. Pfaadt was far more effective at hitter-friendly Tacoma than either Jameson or Ryne Nelson last year and was one of the Diamondbacks' most impressive pitchers in spring training. And while it's a stat that hasn't been cited as often, his 218 strikeouts last year were the most for any minor-league pitcher since 2001., we've come to learn that
Gavin Stone, SP, Dodgers
2022 minors: 9-6, 1.48 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 121 2/3 IP, 44 BB, 168 K
2023 minors: 1-1, 7.71 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 11 2/3 IP, 7 BB, 10 K
Stone isn't locked in yet at Triple-A Oklahoma City, having already issued as many home runs (three) as he did all of last season. But he was carving up hitters in spring training, striking out 14 batters in 6 2/3 scoreless innings, and not enough time has elapsed since then for him to go rotten. Meanwhile, Bobby Miller hasn't started pitching yet, and Ryan Pepiot is still on the IL. If something goes wrong for any member of the Dodgers rotation, it seems most likely that Stone would be the first up.
Naturally, if he continues down this dark path, that likelihood will lessen, but again, look at what he did this spring and, even more so, last season. His changeup is an ace pitch, and he tunnels everything so well that even when contact is made, it's generally poor quality.
Five on the periphery
(Here are some other prospects doing something of note.)
2022 majors: .224 BA (268 AB), 8 HR, .637 OPS, 11 BB, 107 K
2023 minors: .349 BA (43 AB), 8 HR, 1.462 OPS, 8 BB, 14 K
Like Grissom, Adell is technically not a prospect anymore, but he's still young and unproven and worth mentioning here when he's doing the sort of things he's doing now. The big difference between him and Grissom is that his major-league opportunities have all met with such a hard thud that even if we found out he was coming up tomorrow, Adell still wouldn't be among the top five "prospects" to stash. And while it's true he's terrorizing Triple-A pitchers on an almost nightly basis right now, homering eight times in his past eight games, it's also true he has 14 strikeouts during that stretch. As long as he's still swinging through pitches in the zone, he'll remain just a Quadruple-A bat, albeit one who belongs on our radar at age 24.
Ronny Mauricio, SS, Mets
2022 minors: .259 BA (509 AB), 26 HR, 20 SB, .768 OPS, 24 BB, 125 K
2023 minors: .341 BA (41 AB), 4 HR, 1 SB, 1.145 OPS, 4 BB, 9 K
Though he's been overshadowed by Francisco Alvarez and Brett Baty in recent years, Mauricio was once a high-profile international signing and has slowly progressed to the point that he may well be an impact bat himself. The power so far this year has been a sight to behold. After homering four times this spring, he's already up to four home runs at Triple-A Syracuse, and here's what the latest of those looked like:
Clearly, there's electricity in that bat, but he remains a free-swinger who may put himself in too many bad counts to make good on it in the majors. It's also not clear where he fits with Francisco Lindor holding down the shortstop position for the foreseeable future.
Blaze Alexander, SS, Diamondbacks
2022 minors: .301 BA (352 AB), 20 HR, 10 SB, .929 OPS, 38 BB, 102 K
2023 minors: .435 BA (23 AB), 1 HR, 1 SB, 1.377 OPS, 8 BB, 6 K
It's fitting that Alexander's name is Blaze because he's been en fuego to begin the year. He's been on the fringes of top prospect lists in recent years, standing out mostly for his cannon of an arm, but he did show real improvement as a hitter last year and seems to have carried it into this year. Is the bat good enough for him to gain any sort of foothold at a position that's obviously being kept warm for Jordan Lawlar? Well, stranger things have happened. More likely, Alexander is positioning himself for a super utility role, but the improved plate discipline is something to monitor given that it's been a real detriment in the past.
Emmet Sheehan, SP, Dodgers
2022 minors: 7-2, 2.91 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 68 IP, 31 BB, 106 K
2023 minors: 9 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 17 K
The Dodgers never seem to run out of prospects, do they? Sheehan is already shaping up to be another success story after an impressive small-sample debut last year. He opened this year for Double-A Tulsa with five no-hit innings, striking out eight and walking none, and his second start was nearly as impressive with nine strikeouts in four innings. So who is this guy? Exactly the sort of pitching prospect who might sneak up on everybody by virtue of having a fastball that's perfectly suited for the modern game. His vertical approach angle earns him whiffs up in the zone, especially when he's hitting 98 mph, and the rest of his arsenal offers some promise. Really, he may need just one good offspeed pitch to take off.
David Hamilton, 2B, Red Sox
2022 minors: .251 BA (463 AB), 12 HR, 70 SB, .740 OPS, 56 BB, 119 K
2023 minors: .419 BA (31 AB), 3 HR, 5 SB, 1.277 OPS, 1 BB, 7 K
Hamilton has only one standout tool, blazing speed, but his profile is the sort that might have some utility again now that the game is promoting higher BABIPs and more stolen bases. He's also doing the run-like-Hayes, hit-like-Mays thing, having already gone yard three times in eight games for Triple-A Worcester. Is it likely he's discovered power at age 25? No, but the early success is more likely to earn him a look in the majors with the Red Sox already so lacking in depth (he can handle both shortstop and center field). Hamilton is probably just a handy steals specialist even in a best-case scenario, but this hot start is something to keep an eye on.