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Phillies 2019 Draft Preview: Spencer Jones, LHP

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MLB: Philadelphia Phillies-Bryce Harper Press Conference
NOT Spencer Jones
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Spencer Jones is a fascinating prospect who could go to College and star as a 2-way player (strong arm, plus runner, long swing with potential to develop plus power). And, while he’s draftable as both a Pitcher and hitter, his future is most certainly on the mound. Spencer is a 17 year old (18 just before the draft date) Lefty who stands 6’7” and roughly 200 lbs. There’s plenty of projection left for a guy who might still get taller and certainly has plenty of room to add good weight. He’s from Encinitas, CA and is committed to Vanderbilt University. I feel like I’m always writing about Vandy, but it’s hard to avoid to always have top recruiting classes and lose most of their class to the draft, then 3 years later I’m writing about those they didn’t lose as College prospects. I’m 50/50 on whether Jones will make it to campus. He has flaws (control issues crop up as they do with nearly all Pitchers his height), but he also might have one of the highest ceilings in this draft.

At the moment Jones is basically a two pitch pitcher. He has a Fastball with lots of movement (sometimes a bit too much) that sits 89-93 (plus for a Lefty) and a Curveball that projects as a future plus pitch. As a pro (or College Starter) he’ll need to develop a Changeup. Given his athleticism and how well he tends to repeat his delivery It’s certainly a realistic possibility. If he starts showing one this spring, he could rise up draft boards (most now have him in the last third of the First Round).

Like most tall pitchers (6’7” seems to be the magic line where Pitchers have persistent problems with repeating mechanics), Jones sometimes struggles to repeat his delivery. When it’s on he stays on top of his Curve and get 1-7 break out of a high 34 arm slot and he has very good control (flashes Plus). As hinted at above his Fastball has so much movement that even sometimes when his release is consistent he still struggles to spot it. In High School he can get away with spotty control, but that will need to tighten as he progresses. Even if he can only develop an average changeup to keep right handed hitters honest and get the control/command to average he could still project as a mid-rotation starter in the Majors.

Now for video. The video below is from Baseball Factory and is from last year’s Under Armour All American. He’s a tall and fall pitcher (high windup and fall forward to release, as opposed to a drop and drive pitcher, which uses a lot more leg drive). Given his height, I would keep this delivery style as it emphasizes his height. According to his BA draft journal he spent the fall and winter working on hip flexibility and he does look a little stiff at the end of his delivery. That flexibility might allow him to stay on top of his release better and give him a less violent follow through. That said, his balance is good in this clip. I’m not a Pitching mechanics expert, but nothing looks blatantly off to me here. (you can also stick around to see him hit in this clip, if you so desire)

His delivery is a little less consistent in the second video here from Scout trio, taken at the Area Code tryouts last summer (I couldn’t find any 2019 video, so grain of salt that the issues here may have since been fixed). On one Fastball late in this video his delivery looks rushed, the release is late and he buries the pitch at the hitter’s feet. On several throws he doesn’t look like he’s getting the extension through his delivery you see in the above video.

I doubt Jones is a realistic target for the Phillies. If he drops to them in the Second or Third, he may simply opt for 3 years at Vandy. If his stuff takes a big step forward this Spring, he’ll probably be gone by 14. If his stuff stays as is, he’d be a reach at 14. All that said, I find him interesting so decided to write about him. If he goes to school, he’ll be a blast to watch play First (or maybe an OF corner) and Pitch. I also get weirdly excited about the idea of him and 7’0” Lefty Kyle Young in the same rotation.