Jones shows off arm strength at Spring Breakout

March 17th, 2024

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The D-backs' top prospects beat their Rockies counterparts, 3-1, in the first Spring Breakout game between the two teams on Saturday night at Salt River Fields.

Here are a few moments that stood out from the game:

Big-time throw by Jones
Center fielder Druw Jones, the No. 3 prospect in the D-backs' system per MLB Pipeline, fielded a single by Drew Romo in the fourth and fired a 94 mph missile to home plate attempting to nail Yanquiel Fernandez.

Fernandez slid in just before the tag, but the throw showed one of the reasons the D-backs selected Jones with the second overall pick in the 2022 Draft. Jones, the son of former Braves star Andruw Jones, battled injuries in both 2022 and '23 but remains one of the organization’s most promising prospects.

“I thought I did [get him], but I mean, replay said no, so I'm just gonna go with that,” Jones said. “But it’s all right. I mean, I gave it my all.”

Asked if he knew how hard he threw, Jones estimated maybe 90 or 91 mph. Told it was 94 mph, Jones said it was probably the hardest he’s ever thrown.

“That was awesome,” shortstop Jordan Lawlar said of the throw. “If you watch the replay, you see me jump up in the air watching the whole way.”

Lin starts
While the left-hander struggled during his time in big league camp this year, No. 4 prospect Yu-Min Lin shined in Spring Breakout, tossing two scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out one.

Lin was signed out of Taiwan by the D-backs in 2021, and he has been dominant at virtually every level since. At just 19 last season, he pitched at High-A Hillsboro and hitter-friendly Double-A Amarillo and combined for a 3.86 ERA and an organization-best 140 strikeouts in 121 1/3 innings.

“I felt good today,” Lin said. “Because back in big league Spring Training, I didn't do that well, so today I got the opportunity to prove myself again and to go out there and compete.”

Lin said during his time in big league camp, he was focused on learning and trying to get familiar with the way things were done. Saturday, though, he was free to just compete, and he was thrilled to get to start the game.

“It was definitely an honor because we’ve got a lot of starting pitchers in our organization,” Lin said.

Lin said he was told recently that he would open the season with Amarillo again, but he has his sights set higher.

“I want to go to the big leagues this year,” Lin said. “That’s my goal this year, to finish in the big leagues.”

Challenging the call
The automated ball-strike (ABS) challenge system that was used in Triple-A last season was in play for Saturday’s game, and the D-backs' top prospect, Lawlar, made the most of it.

Lawlar was called out on strikes in the fourth inning but immediately challenged the call.

The quick challenge system showed the pitch to be a ball, extending the at-bat, and Lawlar then lined a double off the wall and later came around to score.

“I got to a point of, like, there's no way [that was a strike], right?” Lawlar said. “We had it in the Fall League [in 2022], and I really liked it. If it’s going to keep you in an at-bat, I love the idea, for sure.”

Lawlar was asked if his success rate using the challenge was good.

“I have a pretty good eye,” Lawlar said. “I’ve missed a couple, we’re all going to. We’re not perfect. There was one in Triple-A last year, it was a slider from a right-hander that barely nicked the corner.”

Do players give teammates a hard time when they use a challenge and are wrong?

“I mean, we know who should not be using the [allotted] challenges, I’ll tell you that,” Lawlar said, laughing.