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2022 Draft Preview: Druw Jones - OF

The son of one of the great center fielders of all-time stands alone atop most draft boards.

Age: 18 (28 November 2003)
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 180 lbs.
B/T: R/R
School: Wesleyan (GA)
Commitment: Vanderbilt

Scouting Grades

Position: Outfield

Hit: 55/60 | Power: 60 | Run: 70 | Arm: 65 | Field: 70 | Overall: 65

The Skinny

We’ll start this piece with the six ton elephant in the room. Yes, Druw Jones is the son of 10-time Gold Glove winner, five-time all-star, and borderline Hall of Fame candidate, Andruw Jones, arguably one of the greatest defensive outfielders in the history of the game. So that’s Druw Jones’ pedigree. It is important to keep in mind though, teams will be drafting the younger Jones, not the elite father. These two are not the same player.

Or are they?

Obviously, the answer is, not exactly. However, when trying to point to what sort of player the younger, Druw Jones might turn into, a very interesting tidbit rises to the top. There are no good comps for Druw Jones. At first, I thought I was just missing someone obvious (or maybe someone obscure but still known). So, I did a bit of digging and turned to one of my go-to outlets for help finding a comp. As it turns out, I’m not the only one who came across the “problem” of a less than decent comp. Back in March, Kiley McDaniel wrote about this very issue (ESPN+ subscription required). I bring this up because of how McDaniel approached the problem. McDaniel approached dozens of scouts asking them how far one needs to go back to find a clearer 1-1 than Druw Jones. A few tabbed Adley Rutschman. Many (he estimates about a quarter) reached all the way back to the 2010 draft with Bryce Harper. McDaniel does not put Jones on quite that level. Instead, he ranks him as a “second tier” draftee, though this is more like tier 1A, with only Harper, Stephen Strasburg (2009), David Price (2007), and Justin Upton (2005) as prospects to clearly top Jones in terms of prospect ranking. That includes this year’s Elijah Green not quite reaching Jones’ ranking.

Since there are no good established comps for Jones, a slightly different process will be used here. So here, he will be compared to the two most relevant names that apply to him, his father, Andruw Jones, and Elijah Green, his biggest competition from this year’s draft.

Hit Tool: Like Elijah Green, this is the tool most lagging for Jones. Also like Green, much of this seems to be tied to timing, as sometimes Jones’ upper half lags behind his lower half, both at the plate and in the field. Unlike Green though, Jones has adjusted far more readily and successfully to abusing higher velocities and better quality pitches. Jones is not nearly as aggressive at the plate as Green, hunting pitches less and reacting more. While Jones does not possess the bat-to-ball skills of Johnson or Lee, he shows exceptional bat control in the zone. Jones sees the ball well and, due to his bat control and quick wrists, is able to let the ball travel farther before fully committing. Jones’ approach at the plate is to take advantage of his speed/power combination, working mainly from gap-to-gap, which results in tons of extra bases. At the plate, Jones features a very sound, composed swing that allows him to prioritize contact and put the ball in play. He has great bat speed and demonstrates a knack for peppering the ball into gaps. Jones has also shown that he is capable of waiting on the ball and making adjustments in an instant. Not to be overlooked, Jones does a good job turning on inside pitches and pulling the ball to left field when he is going for power or when pitchers try to work him inside.

Power: Simply put, Jones features plus power to all fields and is very likely to add more as he continues to fill out physically. When pulling to left, Jones has tape-measure power, but not quite in the class of the likes of Termarr Johnson or Green. Still, Jones has 25 HR potential and, should he indeed bulk up a bit, it is an easy step to seeing him be a legitimate 30 HR threat. This is one place where Jones lags behind others in the class, but only by a small margin. Unlike Green, Jones more reliably makes use of his power, as he strikes out less frequently and hits the ball on the line well. On the other hand, as Jones is not nearly as aggressive as Green, Jones is not flirting with Judgian blasts every time he makes fair contact.

Here’s a bit of fun that was had when McDaniel was doing the rounds. Jones doesn’t seem to mind the heckling or the challenge.

Run: Simply put, Jones’ possess elite speed, especially once underway. This doesn’t apply to just his 60-yard times either. Jones is a gifted base runner and an accomplished thief. Jones’s ability on the bases will make him a headache for opposing pitchers and defenses alike. Think back to the early days of Mike Trout’s career. He too was a power hitter with elite speed who used to make defenses cry with his antics on base (until he signed a mega-contract and suddenly stopped risking injury with thefts). This is the sort of disruptive speed that Jones possesses offensively. Defensively, Jones’ speed allows him to make plays on plenty of balls with higher exit velocities sent into the outfield. He has great closing speed that he pairs with his superior defensive instincts and reads. No other player in this year’s draft makes such a difference with their speed as Jones, not even Green, who also possesses game-changing speed.

Arm: Jones has a plus to double-plus arm, an uncommon commodity among center fielders. Like Green, Jones’ arm is both strong and accurate, capable of playing anywhere in the grass. If not for other tools, the likelihood of Jones being moved to right to be groomed into the next Jason Heyward (the Atlanta version) would be quite high.

Field: Most scouts seem to agree that Jones plays defense at a high enough level right now, that he is already top-tier MLB ready defensively. Jones is the best defender in this draft class and may be one of the best defensive talents drafted in the last decade. Many would argue that a 70-grade for his defense is being conservative, not wanting to sell out on a higher score without a larger sample. While it would not be fair to anyone to compare them to the elder Jones, Druw currently projects to have the skills and tools necessary to approach his old man’s 80-grade defense. Jones possesses exceptional instincts in the outfield, makes great reads off the bat, and gets a tremendous jump on the ball. Jones’ wastes little effort, showing high levels of route and defensive efficiency. All these tools, coupled with Jones’ elite speed and powerful arm make him a defensive gem. The younger Jones filling his own mantle with Gold Gloves in the same way his father did is a very real possibility, especially as he is expected to improve as he continues to get more looks at advanced levels of play. Scouts have also had the opportunity to see Jones play at shortstop, where his athleticism, instincts, and powerful arm have acquitted him nicely. However, with his tools already being top of the scale in CF, there is very little chance Jones is moved back to the infield.

Comps: As already stated above, there really is no good comp for Jones. Sure, there are other defensively talented center fielders that he could be compared to, but most did not have his hit tool or were not of the same size profile. Others have all the hit, but not the frame or the defense. At his current size, Jones is something of a unicorn, a prep prospect with loud, present, MLB-ready tools that still has filling out and developing to do that will increase the value of those tools even further.

Summation: Jones has some of the most explosive athletic ability in the 2022 class and the pedigree to make people sit up and take note. The bat-to-ball skills are impressive and he is gifted with substantial raw power too, comfortably plus, maybe more. At 6-foot-4, Jones has a prototypical frame that will undoubtedly stick in CF thanks to top-of-the-scale speed and on-field instincts. His defensive tools line up such that he may end up an elite defender like his father thanks to terrific speed, efficient routes, solid instincts to go with his plus arm.

Should the Orioles elect to take someone other than Jones, the Diamondbacks should run, not walk, to get to the podium to select themselves a future face of the franchise type talent with multi-all-star potential. While Jones’ absolute ceiling is not as high as Green’s he still has the ceiling of a superstar. Unlike Green though, the development floor for Jones is higher.

It seems to be the unanimous consensus that if Druw Jones is not selected by Baltimore, Arizona will not hesitate to take him. If, however, Baltimore does elect Jones, then things get much more interesting/complicated for Mike Hazen and the Arizona front office.