ALTOONA- Jared Jones, a right-handed pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates, has snuck up on a lot of people as of late. Nothing is more evident of that than his recent placement on Baseball America’s top 100 prospect list.
As it stands right now, Jones is ranked number 91 in Baseball America’s rankings.
From the moment Jones stepped onto a professional baseball field, he was already pumping 99 mph with an above-average slider that would wipe Low-A competition away.
Now in Double-A, the 21-year-old is facing a big step up in competition, which means he needs to develop more than two pitches and reign in the control issues he presented in the lower levels.
On April 8, 2023, Jones made his Double-A debut, and I witnessed a lot of changeups from my perspective on the field, which was a very good sign of development for him.
“I think I made pretty good strides with it in the off-season,” said Jones back in April. “I’m doing different things with it, different grips, and trying to find what works best for me, and I found the one that sticks.”
Double-A manager Callix Crabbe expressed after Jones’ first start in Double-A that Jones has been working on a changeup and, more specifically, when to use it.
Jones was using his changeup in that start in typical fastball counts, and as a result, he would get batters swinging too early and either missing it completely or pulling it into foul territory.
On top of Jones having a four-seam, slider, and changeup, he has also added a curveball.
Jones’ curve isn’t exactly quite there yet in terms of using it on a regular basis, but he did give some insight on the pitch and how he typically will use it in an outing.
“My curveball has made some really good strides in the off-season. It’s used for a land pitch for me, just trying to steal a strike. I’m just trying to throw it right down the middle for the most part. I’m throwing it for a lot more strikes, and I’m trying to get a lot of difference between the curveball and the slider.”
During my trip to Altoona on May 27-28, I was able to watch Jones in person, and despite getting into some trouble, he was able to get out of some jams.
“I think his mind chatter is low,” said Crabbe on Jones. “It’s really easy when there is traffic on the bases to feel the pressure to speed up and try to overthink. That’s not happening for him. The game is still slow to him, he’s still able to really focus on pitch execution, which is the most important thing. How the ball is coming out of your hand is more important than what the other team is doing against you. If you can stack several good pitches into the at-bat, it’ll lead into some success.”
Fast forward to his latest start on June 8, and Jones potentially established himself as the best pitching prospect in the Pirates system.
Jones pitched six full innings against Richmond, gave up no hits, and walked just one.
I can comfortably say he threw double-digit changeups in that outing, and it seems he’s starting to become more comfortable with that pitch and use it in high-leverage situations.