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Jared Jones’ Early Signs of Promise Offer Pirates Plenty to be Excited About



Jared Jones, Pittsburgh Pirates

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Sure there have been some hiccups for Jared Jones through his first two starts in the big leagues, but the young right-hander is showing plenty of signs that his top prospect status will continue to translate at the game’s highest level.

Jones was credited with the win in his first-career start against the Marlins in Miami last weekend. In that game, Jones struck out 10 batters, tied for the second most in franchise history for a starting pitcher in his team debut. He also generated 22 swings and misses, the most by a Pirates’ pitcher in a game since 2008.

The 22-year-old was the Pirates starter in their home opener against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday. Though he took the loss and allowed a pair of solo home runs, Jones again showed a lot of encouraging sings.

“His stuff plays. That’s one of the best lineups in baseball right there,” manager Derek Shelton said on Jones’ performance. “They grind through at-bats, they put the ball in play, which we saw in the seventh. They didn’t hit a ton of balls hard but they put the ball in play. And he was very impressive.”

Outside of the two home runs, Jones was largely untouchable. He induced 21 more whiffs, giving him 43 through his first two starts. He struck out seven batters and didn’t walk anyone, perhaps the most encouraging stat yet.

“Yeah, I think all four of (my pitches) have been really good for me so far this year,” Jones said following his outing. “All my stuff has just been working so far this year, and it’s been awesome.”

Jones twice had to work himself out of jams against the Orioles and did so effortlessly. To start the top of the fourth inning, there was a miscommunication in the Pirates’ outfield between Michael A. Taylor and Bryan Reynolds. The miscue went down as a leadoff triple for Ryan O’Hearn.

Two innings later, Ryan Mountcastle led off with a double. Jones didn’t allow either runner to score, retiring the next three batters in order on both occasions.

Jones has impressed his battery mate, Henry Davis. The two have worked together in the past — both in the minor leagues and during spring training. The relationship between the two has certainly helped Jones’ cause.

“It’s been impressive,” said Davis. “Obviously the stuff is there and I think it’s encouraging he’s navigated some of the tougher moments and has pushed through it.”

Though prospects are never a sure thing, even those who are as high-profile as Jones, there is reason to believe he could be for real.

He’s even caught the attention of his competitors, like Grayson Rodriguez, his mound opponent in Friday’s game. Like Jones, Rodriguez was a heralded prospect. He was the Orioles’ first-round selection in 2018. It was fun to watch the two battle.

“He’s really good,” Rodriguez said on Jones. “He’s got great stuff. It was fun matching up against him and I knew I had to pitch well to win this game. He looks like he is going to be a really good pitcher for a long time.”

It’s only been two starts, but Jones has all the attributes you would want in a starting pitcher. He’s capable of hitting triple digits. He misses bats at a top-tier rate. He’s strong mentally and doesn’t get fazed under the bright lights or the big spots.

Jones still has a long way to go before anything is set in stone, but if what he’s shown is a sign of things to come, the Pirates could have an anchor in the rotation for a long time.

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