Yankees’ top outfield prospect could be on the verge of a breakout

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Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees know they have something special in 22-year-old outfield prospect Spencer Jones. Jones has been dubbed the “lefty Aaron Judge” on a number of occasions, but he is trying to create his own identity. Despite being 6’6″ and 235 pounds, closely resembling Judge’s physical frame, Jones is a lefty batter and provides a different type of spark as a superior athlete in the outfield.

Jones has two years of experience with the Yankees’ minor-league system, playing 117 total games last year between High-A Hudson Valley and Double-A Somerset. With Hudson Valley, he hit .268/.337/.450, mashing 13 homers with 56 RBIs and 35 stolen bases. His numbers dipped about 10% in Double-A over a much smaller sample size, but Jones is already showcasing the hard work he put in this off-season during spring training.

Off-Season Developments and Future Prospects

This off-season, Jones made it a priority to add muscle mass and improve his athletic profile, he told MLB.com.

“I wanted to gain some weight, get some upper-body strength, maintain the speed. That was the main focus, just getting in better athletic shape. I feel like I accomplished my offseason goals. I feel good here now.”

The Yankees have had Jones watching Kevin Kiermaier tape in center field, learning how to track balls a bit more efficiently and utilize his size and speed to his advantage. Kiermaier is considered one of the best center fielders of all time, and if Jones can even sniff that level of competency, he will have a bright career in pinstripes.

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Preparing to Join the Yankees

Fortunately, the Yankees have no need for Jones at the major league level just yet, but he is quickly taking steps in the right direction and could make his debut in 2024 if he does not take the starting job in 2025.

In fact, Jones has been watching Judge diligently down in Tampa this spring. He’s noticed his authenticity and the positive relationships he’s created within the organization. He certainly found a great mentor to lean on, and Jones could be playing alongside him at some point in the near future.

“Everything he does is authentic. It’s genuine. He’s not manufacturing any of his actions or what he’s doing. He’s always really that guy. He’s got all these great relationships with people, and that’s because he shows up every day, works hard and gets his stuff done. It’s real.”

Jones could start the 2024 campaign in Triple-A, playing against the highest level of minor-league talent and preparing for an eventual promotion.

If the Yankees have any injuries in the outfield, Jones would likely be the first call-up, especially with Jasson Dominguez still rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Dominguez is expected to return at some point over the summer but will need more time to find his rhythm.

Nonetheless, the Yankees’ outfield is full of young talent and bright futures, which is exactly what they want, considering both Alex Verdugo and Juan Soto are heading into the final year of arbitration and will be free agents in 2025.

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