Thursday, March 20, 2008

Orioles' Jones not quite a steal

Where to pick Adam Jones?

For anyone out there looking for a late-round steal, the biggest question surrounding Baltimore's newest CF may be how much will he steal.

"As much as I can," Jones told me as he walked off the field at Fort Lauderdale Stadium earlier this month.

Upon further questioning, he declined to put a numeral value on his comment, further leaving us fantasy freaks in the draft-room dark. He did, however look up long enough to flash a knowing smile about what fans might be in store this summer. "As much as I can."

Here's what we know about Jones, a centerpiece in the trade that sent Erik Bedard to Seattle: Jones hit 25 HR last year with Tacoma in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. But the 5-tool prospect only stole 8 times in 420 at-bats. Eight bags is almost a non-factor, unless you're in an AL-only league.

But he did swipe 16 bases on 21 attempts in two levels in 2006 and has noticeably above-average speed roaming center. He stole twice in 65 at-bats in last year's cup of coffee with Seattle and he took off for second on two different occasions the day I saw him play, both times foiled by an Orioles hit.

So why is Jones' speed potential so important?

Come the 19th round in your league, when the Chris Duncans and Josh Willinghams of the world are flying off the board, trust me, you'll want to have an idea of what you might be getting in Jones. The difference in 5 or 15 SB potential can be a deal-breaker when you're fishing for a fifth outfielder.

I say his ceiling is 15 bags, with 18-20 HR power and a .280 average. But unless the Orioles move him up from the eighth spot, where he's hit all spring, his RBI and run production won't make him worth more than a last-round pick in a mixed league. Think Gary Matthews Jr. numbers, but in a worse spot in a worse lineup.

Unless you're in a keeper league, you can probably do better.


Anonymous said...

I think the problem with Jones is going to be the team around him. Will he be tempted to be the hero and go for the homer all the time The Orioles are just dreadful. Good input on the steals. Toss.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully Jones puts up good numbers. I have him in 2 leagues. I hoping for a comparison to Chris Young (AZ) last year. The lack of heavy hitters around him will hurt him. How about Josh Hamilton in the mid to late rounds?

John said...

Agree with you on Jones. I think he's a guy who, when you look at the overall performance, won't have a great year, but watch him put up decent second-half numbers, making him a hot prospect going into next-year's draft. I'm going to look for him late in my deep keeper league.

mark said...

The lack of RBI opportunities at the 8 spot in the line-up is definitely a turn-off for me, especially with the mediocre hitters in the line-up before him.

Trevor Freeze said...

To anonymous about Josh Hamilton: I think Hamilton will be a great mid-to-late round, but you better not wait too long. He got snatched up in the fifth round in an AL-only draft I was in and I can see him going in the top 10 rounds in a mixed, 10-team draft. He'll be hitting behind guys like Kinsler and Young, so that's 100+ RBI waiting to happen and he was on a 40-HR pace last year before the wrist injury. Don't wait too long. Guy's got a lot of hype this spring.