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Perrotto: What Pirates Do With Jared Jones Will Be Telling



Jared Jones, Pittsburgh Pirates

It is hard to imagine Jared Jones doing anything more to make the Pittsburgh Pirates’ opening-day roster.

The right-handed pitching prospect has been a phenom in spring training. He has not allowed an earned run in 16.1 innings.

Jones was impressive again in his last start of the Grapefruit League season on Saturday. The 22-year-old limited the Boston Red Sox to one unearned run on four hits over five innings in Bradenton, Fla., while striking out five and walking four.

Granted, only two Red Sox regulars – catcher Connor Wong and first baseman Triston Casas — made the long trip from Fort Myers. The four walks are also a bit of a concern because Jones had eight total this spring against 15 strikeouts.

However, Jones has had the best spring of the four pitchers in contention for the last two spots in the rotation beyond opening-day starter Mitch Keller and left-handers Martin Perez and Marco Gonzales.

Lefty Bailey Falter has been torched for 14 runs and 22 hits in 16 innings, though he has 15 strikeouts and just three walks.

Luis Ortiz has allowed four earned runs on nine hits while striking out 15 and walking seven in 12 innings.

Quinn Priester has totaled 15.1 innings and surrendered 10 earned runs on 14 hits with 13 strikeouts and three walks.

None of the three pitchers will start in the last two exhibition games before the Pirates break camp on Monday. Thus, the team’s decision on the Nos. 4 and 5 starters could come as soon as Sunday morning.

The Pirates are in a tough spot with Falter. He has no minor-league options remaining, so he would have to be exposed to waivers if the Pirates tried to outright him to Triple-A Indianapolis.

The chances of Falter passing through waivers are 50-50. Everyone covets lefties so it seems possible one of the other 29 teams would claim him.

Jones, Ortiz and Priester have options and can be sent to the minor leagues.

What the Pirates decide to do with Jones will be a good indicator of how they view the upcoming season.

If the Pirates put Jones on the opening-day roster, then they have been telling the truth about trying to contend in 2024. Jones has been one of their best five starting pitchers this spring.

Of course, Paul Skenes was also one of the five best starters in camp and the Pirates didn’t give him a chance to make the team. In Skenes’ case, there was at least some logic involved as he had pitched just 6.2 professional innings.

However, Jones shined at Double-A Altoona last season, posting a 2.23 ERA. A 1.08 WHIP and 47 strikeouts in 44.1 innings.

Jones’ statistics at Indianapolis weren’t nearly as good and included a 4.72 ERA in 82 innings. However, he allowed two runs or fewer in five of his last six starts and had a 1.02 ERA in 17.1 innings total in his final three outings.

Jones told me earlier this spring that the reason for his slow start was adjusting to the difference in the automatic ball-strike system at Triple-A.

If the Pirates send Jones down, they will give the same tired excuses – he’s not ready for the big leagues, he needs to sharpen his pitches, he needs to work on his command, he’s still young.

The real reason will be money. They will want to keep him in the minors, so he doesn’t start to accrue the major-league serve time necessary to eventually become eligible for salary arbitration and free agency.

It will be yet another sign that the Pirates value money over competitiveness.


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