Yankees’ former 1st round pick a rising star in the Minors

spencer jones, yankees
Hudson Valley Renegades outfielder Spencer Jones during media day on April 5, 2023. Renegades Media Day

At present, the New York Yankees‘ major-league roster might not boast much positivity, but there’s a silver lining in the minor-league teams. They spotlight several talented players rising rapidly through the farm.

Overlooked Talent in the Minor Leagues

Although Oswald Peraza in Triple-A and Austin Wells in Double-A have been the talk of the town, former first-round pick Spencer Jones hasn’t garnered much attention despite his stellar performance in the team’s system. After just a year, he’s already playing for Hudson Valley, the Yankees’ A+ team.

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Spencer Jones’ Impressive Record

In 2022, during his stint with A-ball in Tampa, Jones demonstrated impressive stats, hitting .325 with a .411 on-base percentage (OBP), contributing three homers, and eight RBIs across 22 games. His performance with Hudson Valley this season continues to shine.

Over 54 games, he has 10 homers, 36 RBIs, and 16 stolen bases, hitting .289 with a .344 OBP. His .531 slugging percentage and 134 wRC+ are worth noting, even though his strikeout rate is 32.8% and his walk rate is 7.6%.

The Emerging “Lefty Aaron Judge”

Jones has earned the nickname “lefty Aaron Judge,” but he’s keen on creating his own identity. In June, he played 15 games, achieving a .350 average with three homers, eight RBIs, eight walks, and 19 strikeouts. Remarkably, he hasn’t struck out in his last three games, earning seven hits with two homers and five RBIs.

An Accelerated Journey to the Majors

Jones’ recent form indicates that he’s gaining momentum, making a compelling argument for the Yankees to consider promoting him to Double-A in the coming months. This move would certainly fast-track his journey to the majors.

If Jones can progress to Somerset by year-end, he will be one step away from becoming a viable option in the outfield — a position that the Yankees are keen to strengthen.

The Right Fit for the Yankees

Jones is an exceptional hard hitter, a trait that the Yankees appreciate at the Major League level. Being a lefty who can exploit the short right field in Yankee Stadium, he seems tailor-made for the team. However, further development is required before he can progress to the next stage.

“He’s a guy who hits the ball really hard, but we’re just trying to get him to hit the ball in the air a little bit more,” says Hudson Valley’s hitting coach Kevin Martir, as quoted by NJ.com. “Being able to do that and counter-rotate sets up his posture behind the ball in order to get some more loft on the baseball. Everything else — like his bat-to-ball skills — he really already has.”

A Prospect for 2024 or 2025?

While Jones’ strikeout rate increased from 18.9% in 2022 to 32.8% this season, suggesting he’s still trying to find his rhythm, he’s shown significant improvement over the past few weeks.

The Yankees are keen to avoid a repeat of the Estevan Florial situation — impressive in Triple-A but striking out excessively in the MLB.

Regardless, Jones’ progress will be closely monitored. If he manages to make the leap to Double-A this year, his development could position him for a potential call-up in late 2024 or 2025.