Top pick Druw Jones eyes his own MLB path

Deal finalized, D-backs host outfielder, parents before win vs. Nats

July 24th, 2022

PHOENIX -- Andruw Jones stood on the warning track at Chase Field and watched as his 18-year-old son, Druw, jogged out to center field. Shortly after, the former MLB outfielder was posed with a question.

"Remind me of me? It's scary when I see him run out there in the outfield," Jones said.

That's where Jones, a five-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove Award winner, wants the comparisons to end. He's ready to sit back and enjoy the professional career of Druw Jones, the 6-foot-4, 180-pound outfielder selected by the D-backs with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft.

"I want him to be his own man, I want him to be his own person," the elder Jones said. "I don't want him trying to be what I did or what I didn't do."

The time has arrived for Druw to carve his own path to MLB. On Saturday -- four days after's Jim Callis reported the two sides had reached agreement on a signing bonus worth $8,189,400 -- the deal was made official. Jones signed his first professional contract with Arizona, before enjoying his first taste of the big league lifestyle that his father enjoyed for 17 seasons -- one that the younger Jones hopes to get plenty more of in the future.

A Jones nameplate was added to an unoccupied locker in the D-backs’ clubhouse, where Jones changed from his dress clothes into workout gear.

He shagged fly balls in the outfield. He joined a group featuring Alek Thomas, Buddy Kennedy and Daulton Varsho to take batting practice. After that, he came off the field to sign autographs for a group of young fans.

Finally, Jones threw out the first pitch and took in the D-backs' 7-2 win over the Nats. It was his first time at Chase Field, the facility that could eventually be his home ballpark for many years to come.

“It felt good. I got my good swings in for the most part, and it’s just a lot of fun to be out here,” Jones said. “There’s a lot of young guys and the coaching staff is always [there] for the young guys, and it means a lot to be one of those guys that they are hopeful to have in the future.”

It’s not a huge surprise that Jones’ baseball path took him from Wesleyan High School in Peachtree Corners, Ga., directly to the pros. His parents saw it coming over the years.

The elder Jones knew his son had a chance to be a big leaguer after taking him to a tryout for a team when he was 14.

“I brought him back and I told his mom, ‘I think this kid is pretty special,’” the former Braves star said.

Despite his father’s legacy, the younger Jones still had to put in the work. As his mother, Nicole, said, there’s “kind of a one-in-a-million chance” to get drafted especially going up against so many talented players from high schools and colleges around the country.

“It’s surreal, and I’m over the moon for him. I can’t stop smiling even though I want to cry, because I’m leaving my baby in Arizona,” Nicole said. “But he put in the work and the time, and we’ve been at this for a long time, so for it to end like this is amazing.”

Of course, this is only the beginning of a new chapter for Jones, who will start working his way up through the D-backs’ farm system. Ideally, he’ll become part of a starting outfield also featuring Thomas and Corbin Carroll, the club’s No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline, for the foreseeable future.

Despite the long road ahead, it took only one day on the Chase Field outfield grass for Jones to learn one of the rules of batting practice from some of his potential future teammates.

“If the ball hits the rafters, it counts, and if I drop the ball, I was going to have to pay for everybody in the outfield’s dinners,” Jones said.

Sure enough, that exact thing happened on one fly ball to center. Yet even though it deflected down at a tricky angle, Jones kept his eyes on the ball, stayed patient and completed the catch.

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo came away impressed after his initial 15-minute chat with Jones in his office on Saturday. And he can’t wait to see where the youngster’s career goes from here.

“You don’t see that [maturity] with a lot of 18-year-olds,” Lovullo said. “Usually, the head’s down, there’s limited interaction from that side. But the head was up, shoulders were back, engaged, great conversation. Very confident kid, and I know that he’s going to get started and get on his way.”