In the third round of the 2016 MLB draft, the Miami Marlins selected outfielder Thomas Jones out of Laurens High School, South Carolina. Jones signed with Miami rather than follow through on his commitment to attend Vanderbilt University.
Jones was a two-sport athlete in high school and even received multiple offers from different universities to play safety for their football program. He is the definition of a pure athlete.
“Baseball and football were always my favorite sports,” Jones told Fish Stripes earlier this season. “I played football just to get away from baseball, but I was pretty good at it. The difference was, I loved baseball, but liked football.”
The right-hander stands at 6-foot-4 with a listed weight of 195 pounds. He is 20 years old. According to MLB Pipeline, he currently ranks as Miami’s No. 20 prospect, but the Marlins front office seems to be very high on Jones’ talent and believe he can make it deep through their system.
Based on scouting reports, the outfielder has the potential to become a solid five-tool player, but he still needs to make some improvements before he gets to that point. Currently his only above-average tools are his fielding and his speed. The latter is close to an elite level and should allow him to stick in center field.
Jones’ bat could use some more improvements, particularly with finding a way to make consistent contact. He whiffed in 32.2 percent of plate appearances last year and that has risen even more to 34.3 percent in 2018. These improvements should come over time as they do with most professional players when they get more repetitions against tough pitchers and gain more discipline in the box.
The outfielder has spent the entirety of this current season with Miami’s Low-A affiliate, the Greensboro Grasshoppers. Through 74 games, Jones is slashing .228/.290/.361 with eight home runs, 23 RBIs, and 14 stolen bases.
Recent video of my look at #Marlins OF Thomas Jones. Physical, athletic specimen; speed/power toolset w/ contact questions against off-speed stuff. Chance to stay in CF if he can improve routes, could be a RF/CF type. Ceiling/risk profile. @fishstripes @marlinsminors #JuntosMiami pic.twitter.com/5yNk1SbobL— Adam McInturff (@2080adam) May 12, 2018
As long as Jones capitalizes on the remaining month-plus of the South Atlantic League schedule, he should continue to progress through Miami’s system. Next stop would be High-A Jupiter in 2019, and then the major leagues a couple years after that.
Greensboro teammate Colton Hock explains to Fish Stripes how Jones’ competitiveness is on display whenever he takes the field:
“When he takes his reps in the outfield during batting practice, everybody clears out of the way because he is tracking any ball that is center, right-center, left-center. It’s insane. He’ll drop back 50 yards and catch a ball at the track and then the next ball off the bat will be shallow center and he’ll be tracking that sucker down too and catching it. It’s like he’s addicted to snagging every ball during BP.
“It reflects in the game with some of the plays he makes in the outfield. He’s got special tools out there and his bat is coming along really well with it. I think it’s a confidence thing with him—If he knows he can get to every possible ball in BP, then he knows he can make those plays in the game. It’s fun to watch.”
The Marlins already identified Jones as an important prospect, including him among the 25 who participated in the Captain’s Camp leadership seminar at Marlins Park last spring.
With his skill set, he’s just a few adjustments away from returning to Miami on a regular basis.