Draft Profile: Spencer Jones (OF)
With the 25th overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft, the Yankees drafted Spencer Jones (OF) out of Vanderbilt. Who is he?
MLB Pipeline Pre-Draft Profile:
Player (Rank): Spencer Jones (#51)
School/Position: Vanderbilt (SEC)/Outfield
Age/DOB: 21 Years Old/5/14/2001
Height/Weight: 6'7"/225 pounds
Previously Drafted: Los Angeles Angels - 31st Round (2019)
Scouting Grades: (20-80 Scale)
College Statistics (2022):
61 Games, 230 At-Bats, .370/.460/.643 Triple-Slash, 85 Hits, 12 Home Runs, 60 RBI's, 32 Walks, 64 Strikeouts, 14 Stolen Bases, 1 Caught Stealing
MLB Pipeline Blurb:
"A California high school product, Jones was one of the best two-way prospects in the 2019 Draft but required surgery to repair a small fracture in his pitching elbow. He slid to the Angels in the 31st round because of his strong commitment to Vanderbilt, and he required Tommy John surgery in July 2020 after trying to pitch again in summer ball. He missed part of last season while completing his rehab and didn't become an everyday position player for the Commodores until this spring, when he has hit his way into the top two rounds.
Jones has the potential to hit for average while producing solid power, but he also swings and misses frequently against non-fastballs. Though he generates plenty of bat speed and has impressive strength and leverage in his 6-foot-7 frame, his size also creates a naturally long left-handed swing. He uses the opposite field almost to a fault, rarely turning on pitches, and there are concerns about whether he'll be able to handle quality fastballs on the inner half.
Very athletic for his size, Jones shows average speed out of the batter's box, is quicker once he gets going and has some basestealing ability. He covers ground in right field and has regained average arm strength. He also played some first base last year at Vanderbilt and is a solid defender there."
First, off: cue the "next Aaron Judge" hot takes. I've already seen a ton of tweets comparing Jones and Judge in everything from junior year college stats, to their heights, to the fact they each have last names starting with J, to how they both played on the same Cape Cod league team. If you're following Spencer Jones, now that he is a Yankee, all you're going to hear about is his journey to become the next Aaron Judge. And, that's all I'll say about those comparisons (for now).
Spencer Jones is the prototypical player that the Yankees should be targeting every draft season in the early rounds: left handed (hitters AND pitchers), college experience (especially from a top-tier program), and someone who will (likely) sign under-slot bonus (to allow for over-slot players who dropped). Let me explain:
The Yankees play in Yankee Stadium. It is built for left-handed batters with the short porch in right field. The best teams and players in Yankees history have taken advantage of this. By that same logic, the Yankees opponents should then want to use their left-handed hitters...so the Yankees can pre-emptively respond by using left-handed pitchers. This is the way for the Yankees: left-handed bats and left-handed pitchers. It's always been this way and will continue to be this way for a while.
Additionally, college players are the better bet than high school players come draft season. They have more experience against better competition (and in higher stress situations) and will be able to start in a higher level of the minor leagues, and thus should be able to make a major-league impact (as an MLB player or a legitimate trading piece) sooner rather than later. To me, the collegiate ballplayer is almost always better than the high school ballplayer. (Now, yes, this is sort-of hypocritical because I also pushed HARD for the Yankees to get Volpe in 2019, but that was a special case, where I have been proven right so far.) And, if the Yankees want to pursue a high school ballplayer, often times they will require over-slot bonuses to sign...thus...
Going after a lower ranked prospect in the earlier rounds is always a good choice. It allows the Yankees to have extra wiggle room to sign other players above value across the whole draft. The Yankees did this with Clarke Schmidt and Matt Sauer in order to sign two high ranked draft prospects (and make room to sign others) as opposed to signing just 1 guy. Prospects FAIL much more often than they succeed and I'd much rather the Yankees get 2-3 good prospects than 1 great prospect in each draft. If one of those 2-3 guys becomes a solid major leaguer than they succeeded, if that one top guy gets hurt and flames out...well, that draft was a failure.
All of this is to say, I'm a huge fan of the Yankees drafting Spencer Jones. I like the videos I'm seeing of him on Twitter, I'm liking the huge support of him coming out of Vanderbilt from fans, friends, and teammates. It's much to early to project anything from him, but if this is the prototype of player the Yankees continue to target in the future years of drafting under Damon Oppenheimer and Kevin Reese, I will be very happy.