There was a time that Adam Jones was considered one of the top prospects in baseball. In 2007 he hit 25 HR in just 420 AB at Triple A, while also hitting .314. We all know that his first stints in the majors didn’t quite go as planned with the Mariners, but once he was dealt to the Orioles as part of the well-known Erik Bedard deal there was hope that he’d finally realize his potential.
His first season in Baltimore, however, was not quite what it was cracked up to be. He hit a modest .270 with just 9 HR and 57 RBI in 477 AB. He also had 10 SB, so he showed that he has the potential to be usable, but in formats that don’t require 5 starting OF’ers, he was far from it.
There are plenty of numbers from his season that owners obviously shouldn’t enjoy seeing. Striking out 22.6% vs. walking just 4.6% is obviously the most glaring. He simply needs to get a better feel for the strike zone. I’m not going to say that he has to in order to be successful, but it certainly would go a long way to get things moving in the right direction.
I honestly don’t see the strikeouts going down too much (even at Triple A in ’07 he struck out 25.2%), but I think the walks could improve, at least slightly. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him walking 7% of the time, leading to more times on base and more potential SB opportunities.
Is he going to steal 30 bases? Nope, I don’t see it, but it is possible to see him between 15-20, certainly a number that would make owners happy.
Still, the question is if he will be able to develop the type of power that owners had envisioned from him based on his minor league numbers. Last season he hit just 21 doubles, leading to a slugging percentage of .400. That isn’t a number that brings much hope.
Still, the fact that his HR/FB was just 6.9% does lead one to believe that as he gets older, a few more balls will start to make their way over the fence. He’ll turn 24-years old during the season, so it certainly is possible that he begins to get things moving in the right direction.
I’m not going to sit here and predict that he is going to suddenly breakout out and slug 30 HR, I just don’t see that as being realistic. Still, I truly believe that he could not only close in on 20 HR, but eclipse that number if he can stay healthy for the full season.
In 2008, he missed some time due to a fractured foot, which certainly cut into his numbers, not that his HR total would have been significantly higher even if he had stayed healthy. Still, his biggest HR month was 3, which came in August. There’s no question in my mind that this season, with another year behind him and a little bit more strength, Jones will put up multiple months with more then that.
If he were playing for another team, I may be worried about his playing time, but with the Orioles they should give him plenty of time to continue to develop. He had been making positive strides prior to his injury, including seeing some time in the #2 slot in the line-up. At this point I’m not sure exactly how the Orioles will construct things in ’09, but I don’t think it is unreasonable that he will get another chance to fill that role.
That would lead to plenty of chances for him to score runs, with 85 or so as a very realistic number. He’s shaping into sounding like a player worth using, isn’t he?
Let’s take a look at what I would project him out as for 2009:
. 277 (150-542), 19 HR, 78 RBI, 84 R, 17 SB, .327 BABIP, .325 OBP, .428 SLG
Are those All-Star numbers? Nope, not even close. Are those early round picks? Nope, and given how he performed last season the idea of taking him early would make you pretty crazy.
As far as a late round sleeper? Yep, he’s an easy selection for me and a player I’m going to target in all formats, especially those that require 5 starting OF’ers. I’d recommend you do the same, as he could put up numbers similar to what Corey Hart and others have been doing in recent years, but he’ll be available significantly later in your drafts.
In retrospect, in my most recent mock draft, I regret opting to go with Ryan Church over someone like Jones in the late rounds. Next time I’m in that situation, you can bet that Jones will be my choice.