We are in the stretch run of the 2023 season, and time is running out to find a few more top dynasty keepers.
Jones, drafted by Cleveland in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft, is a former Top 100 prospect, ranked as high as 45th by Baseball America, 36th by MLB Pipeline, and 52nd by Baseball Prospectus in 2021 before dropping out of the rankings ahead of the 2022 season.
The Guardians (Indians at the time) thought so highly of Jones that he was the team’s representative in the 2019 Futures Game.
Jones, who is now 25, made his Major League debut for Cleveland in 2022 and appeared in 28 games and getting 86 at-bats. But by the end of the season, the Guardians had decided it was time to move on from Jones and traded him to Colorado in November for minor league infielder Juan Brito.
Right now the trade is a win for the Rockies. But let’s dig in and see why I consider Jones a top dynasty keeper.
Jones was given a 55 grade for his power when he was still a prospect, and that power did show up in the minors as he hit 47 dingers from 2018-2021 (no 2020 season) in 345 games. But when Jones joined the Guardians, the power that he showed down on the farm didn’t show up in Cleveland. In 86 at-bats, he hit only two homers and slugged a very pedestrian .372.
But what a difference a year makes. At Triple-A Albuquerque, Jones smashed 12 homers and slugged .711 in only 39 games. Since joining the Rockies in May, Jones has added 16 homers and 52 RBI while slugging .511. With 309 at-bats, you can roughly double his output to provide a full-season total and that would mean a 30-homer, 100-RBI campaign.
NOT A PRODUCT OF DENVER
When it comes to power production from Colorado players, the first question is “How much of that production is due to playing at altitude?” It’s a fair question to ask. For Jones, the answer is none.
Jones’ splits break down as follows: In Denver, he has eight homers and 26 RBI with a slash line of .282/.370/.507 in 142 at-bats (41 games). On the road, he has eight homers and 26 RBI while slashing .270/.342/.515 in 187 at-bats (48 games).
His average and OBP are higher at home, and that makes sense due to the larger outfield. But he has a higher slugging percentage on the road. And while he does have 25 more at-bats on the road, that is not a huge factor when it comes to the equal amounts of homers at home vs. the road.
DIGGING A LITTLE DEEPER
As you can see from the chart above, Jones is probably getting a little lucky with his .275 average as his xBA is .235. He is also not doing well when it comes to K% (111 strikeouts so far this season) and Whiff%. But the rest of the numbers are very nice, especially his Barrel%, which is in the 93rd percentile.
It’s one thing to have some of these numbers over 100 at-bats, it’s another thing when these numbers are over the course of 300-plus at-bats.
He has gone through the ups and downs that every hitter encounters during a season. In fact, after hitting four homers and driving in 11 while slashing .322/.414/.522 in June, Jones slumped to .193/.258/.404 in July. However, he still hit four homers and had eight RBI and rebounded to slash .281/.369/.521 in August with four dingers and 17 RBI.
And through Thursday, Jones is having a nice September with three homers and 13 RBI while slashing .271/.340/.583.
SPEED AS WELL?
The power from Jones shouldn’t come as a surprise, and the solid slash line isn’t something that has come out of nowhere. But the one surprise Jones has unleashed is his 13 stolen bases.
During his minor league career, the most steals he had in one season was 10 back in 2021. He totaled only four steals last year, and those all came while he was at Triple-A. But after swiping five bases at Triple-A this season, Jones has continued to run with the Rockies, and at a high success rate as he has only been thrown out twice.
Will his speed carry over into next year and beyond? With the new rules, there have been a slew of players running more and being successful. Thus, expecting 10 to 15 steals from Jones to go with 25 to 30 homers is not unreasonable, and why he is a top dynasty keeper.
NOT SOLD ON SCHNEIDER
Last week a reader asked me about Schneider. Long story short, I am not sold on Schneider.
First, a highlight concerning Schneider. Through his first 25 games as a major leaguer, Schneider was slashing .370/.500/.815 for a whopping 1.315 OPS. Know who had a better OPS through their first 25 games? NO ONE!
That OPS is the best ever for a player during his first 25 games. That is pretty impressive. Know who is second behind Schneider? Mandy Brooks of the 1925 Cubs. Yep, that Mandy Brooks, the player no one has ever heard about. My point is this – 25 games is nothing. Anyone can have a great 25-game stretch, and Schneider is one of those players.
HISTORY NOT ON HIS SIDE
Schneider, who is now 24, has a career minor league slash line of .253/.373/.463. Before being recalled to the majors by the Blue Jays, Scheider was hitting .275, a career-high mark for him. His previous best batting average was .263 in 2019 at Rookie and Low-A ball.
And until this season, Scheider had never shown the power he is currently displaying. His 16 homers and .457 slugging percentage from last year were career-bests. So his 7.3 home run percentage is way out of line with his career norms.
Through his first seven games with the Jays Schneider slashed .400/.416/.1.196. Through his first 14 games, his slash line sat at .426/.526/.894. A great run, without a doubt. But everyone knows those numbers are unsustainable. However, Schneider seems to be crashing back to reality instead of slowly regressing back to normal.
In his last 13 games, he is slashing .238/.396/.571 – good to great numbers, really, except for the batting average. But he also has a 30% strikeout rate during that span. Over his last seven games entering Friday, his slash line is .208/.321/.458 with a 32% strikeout rate. For the season his strikeout rate is 28%.
Can Schneider turn it around? Sure. But do I count on him doing so? No.
I’m just not buying what Schneider is selling right now, not after only 110 plate appearances. If you play in a deep league with 40-man rosters, then sure, he is worth a gamble for next season. But if you are in a 12- to 16-team league that has only 25-man rosters or your league limits the number of players you can keep, then I would pass on Schneider.