Go-ahead and hit your 1st pro HR, Druw Jones

No. 2 D-backs prospect wallops solo shot to key victory by Single-A Visalia

August 25th, 2023

Just over 13 months removed from when the D-backs made him the second overall pick in the 2022 Draft, Druw Jones has his first professional home run.

MLB’s No. 35 prospect notched the milestone in style. With Single-A Visalia knotted in the top of the ninth inning, Jones got an elevated fastball and clocked it to the deepest reaches of left-center field at San Manuel Stadium, breaking a tie en route to a 5-4 victory over Inland Empire.

“I was selling out for the heater inside and he threw it where I could do some damage to it,” Jones said of 66ers hurler Sadrac Franco (Angels). “I’m just excited to win.”

Injuries have beset the early part of Jones’ career. First, it was a torn posterior labrum in his left shoulder sustained during batting practice at the club's Spring Training complex that shut down his first taste of pro ball before it ever began. Then after just 10 games with the Rawhide to begin 2023, a right quad strain put him on the shelf. He returned in June for a four-game stint in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League, but a right hamstring strain cropped up, pushing him out until the start of August.

But if you ask Jones, the time he spent on the sidelines was actually an advantage for multiple reasons.

“I got to connect with a lot of people at the facility that I probably wouldn’t have connected with if I was in Visalia for the entire season. I got to work on some swing stuff, I got to do everything,” Jones told MLB.com. “Just being able to take advantage of the facility and all the luxury it has, it means a lot. There’s definitely a lot of positives because I got to work on my body and work on my health.”

Prior to the 2022 Draft, Jones checked in as MLB Pipeline’s No. 1 Draft prospect due to his immense all-around potential. He earned Gatorade Georgia Player of the Year honors after hitting .570 with 13 homers during his senior year at Wesleyan School. The son of 10-time Gold Glove winner, Andruw Jones, the 19-year-old has unsurprisingly drawn lofty comparisons even prior to his pro career getting underway.

Jones backed up that hype immediately, putting his breathtaking defensive acumen on display in his pro debut when he made one of the catches of the season on April 6, running a seemingly impossible distance to track down a fly ball. The D-backs’ No. 2 prospect is one of just five prospects to boast a 70-grade fielding tool or better.

The stop-start nature of his pro odyssey has undoubtedly played a role in Jones’ early scuffles at the dish. While the time off between homers in live game action may be jarring, he has still amassed only 97 at-bats since joining the D-backs’ organization.

Although all injury circumstances are unique, Arizona has seen proof positive from its top talents that they can be overcome: Corbin Carroll had surgery in May 2021 to repair a posterior capsular avulsion and labrum tear in his right shoulder; he has gone on to emerge as a favorite for the 2023 National League Rookie of the Year Award. Jordan Lawlar, the club’s No. 1 prospect, sustained a left posterior labrum tear in August 2021 and has emerged as a dynamic two-way talent that is on the doorstep of Chase Field after a recent callup to Triple-A Reno.

Beyond Jones' seismic power display Thursday, there are additional positives to be gleaned. Since returning to Single-A, he has drawn five walks in six games. He added his second Rawhide steal in the third after reaching on an infield single which enabled him to show off his wheels. While the 19-year-old draws rave reviews for his defense, his run tool also grades out at a 70, or well-above-average.

The California League regular season wraps up on Sept. 10, giving Jones just a few more weeks of game action before a full offseason. For all of the accolades amassed during a storied prep career, his focus remains singular as his first season of pro ball -- abbreviated as it may be -- concludes:

“Just keep winning games.”