PHOENIX — It didn’t take long for the D-backs to come to a deal with outfielder Druw Jones, their first-round pick in the 2022 MLB Draft, as the two teams agreed to an 8,189 bonus $400, a source told MLB.com. Jim Callis. The club have not confirmed the deal, which is pending medical review.
That’s the total slot value for the No. 2 pick and the biggest draft bonus awarded to a high school player, surpassing the previous record of $7.7 million that Bobby Witt Jr. received from Royals in 2019.
Jones, the son of five-time MLB All-Star Andruw Jones, has been ranked as the top draft prospect by MLB Pipeline. During his senior season at Wesleyan High School in Georgia, Jones hit .445 with a 1.494 OPS, 16 home runs and 14 steals in 38 games before being named the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year.
“I’m just ready to go out there and play for a type of organization that’s ready for young people to pursue their careers and win a championship,” Jones said after being drafted Sunday night.
It’s the second straight year the D-backs have nabbed a player who was ranked a top three prospect by MLB Pipeline before the draft. In 2021, shortstop Jordan Lawlar was ranked third and sixth overall by Arizona.
After being selected, Jones spoke about the D-backs’ desire to build a championship around a core of young players, and that group is starting to take shape.
Center fielder Alek Thomas, right fielder Daulton Varsho and shortstop Geraldo Perdomo are already contributing at the big league level, and another first-round pick, outfielder Corbin Carroll, who was selected in the 2019 draft, dominated at Double-A Amarillo and was promoted to Triple-A Reno just before the All-Star break.
That’s a quick increase, especially since there were no Minor League games in 2020, and then Carroll missed all but a few games in Season 21 due to a chest injury. ‘right shoulder. He is now set to don a D-backs uniform, which could happen in September, or at the latest next year.
Lawlar, too, is moving fast, jumping from Single-A Visalia to High-A Hillsboro before the break, and he and Carroll represented the D-backs in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.
Then there are the pitchers Arizona has drafted since 2019.
Tommy Henry, Ryne Nelson and Drey Jameson are with Triple-A Reno, while Brandon Pfaadt, Bryce Jarvis, Slade Cecconi and Blake Walston are with Double-A Amarillo. Six of the seven are in the top 10 on Arizona’s Farm System MLB Pipeline rankings, and the one that isn’t (Henry) is at No. 13.
While the pitcher count doesn’t seem too impressive right now, consider Reno and Amarillo to be extremely hitter-friendly parks.
“In the first half, you get beat up a bit,” D-backs pitching coach Brent Strom said. “Flying bullets fly everywhere and come out, and you get a little discouraged. But now they’re starting to come back.
“Walk rates have gone down, first pitch hit percentage has gone up, first three pitch wins have gone up – getting two of the first three pitches to be hits, or at least make contact. All these different metrics that our front office provides gives us a better idea of who we might have if and when they come here.”
There are no guarantees when it comes to prospects, but with quantity comes quality, and the D-backs have done a good job of building that depth through the draft. The last three days have been a continuation of that.
“I think it’s just a testament to all the work that our scouts and all of our front office people, our analysts, have done,” Arizona scouting director Ian Rebhan said. “We’re incredibly thorough. I think our process has been great. It’s always great to see the results on the pitch and this exciting group of prospects we have in the minor leagues.”