It has been a rough week for Seattle Mariners prospect watchers: top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker has been placed on the Triple-A Tacoma disabled list with a "shoulder impingement," while first base prospect Ji-Man Choi was suspended for 50 games yesterday after failing a urine test and testing positive for PED. If you're looking for the different kind of positive, one player to track is rookie outfielder James Jones, promoted to the major league roster on Wednesday to replace injured pitcher Blake Beavan.
Jones is something of a unique talent. Drafted in the fourth round in 2009 from Long Island University, he was a two-way player in college and a prospect as both a left-handed pitcher and an outfielder. The Mariners liked his physical tools so they made him a full time position player. The results have been inconsistent but intriguing.
Jones offers all five physical tools, with wiry strength, a very strong throwing arm, and slightly above average speed. A 6-4, 200 pound left-handed hitter born September 24, 1988, he has a mixed track record but performed decently last year for Double-A Jackson, hitting .275/.347/.419 with 14 doubles,10 triples, and 28 steals. His overall production was solid for the Southern League with a 123 wRC+. So far in 2014 he was 13-for-42 (.310) in 11 games for Tacoma with two doubles, a triple, and two steals.
At this best, Jones will show decent plate discipline with flashes of power and speed. He can play all three outfield positions, with right field being the best fit for his tool set. He projects best as a fourth outfielder at the major league level, lacking the bat to play regularly for a first-division team but providing enough secondary contributions to be a useful role player.