Fourth up in my 2016 MLB Draft profile series is an athletic prep infielder named Nolan Jones. He’s listed as a shortstop, but might end up at third base … or second base … or the outfield.
6’3 (6’4? 6’5?), 195 pounds
Position: Shortstop, Third base
DOB: May 7, 1998
Slot recommended bonus (No. 20): $2,316,300
Slot recommended bonus (No. 32): $1,940,700
Slot recommended bonus (No. 36): $1,791,000
Editor’s note: All information of draft prospects compiled from internet sources, scouting reports and video.
Of the prep bats who might be available come pick No. 20, Jones is high on the list. He profiles as a bat-first, left-side infielder in the mold of Corey Seager or possibly Ben Zobrist (minus the switch-hitting), depending on his ultimate defensive position. It’s hard to nail down an official height on Jones, who has been listed at 6’3, 6’4 and 6’5 in a number of different publications.
On offense, Jones uses a smooth, effortless left-handed swing that generates some of the best bat speed in the country. Because of that, he profiles to have at least average power and the potential for more. He has a quick load and the bat stays in the hitting zone for a long time. He also has the frame to add some good weight that could help him tap into that raw power potential. He’ll probably begin his career as more of a gap-power guy than an over-the-fence-power guy. His hit tool is ahead of his power at present.
Defensively, Jones — legitimately — could find himself as four or five positions. He’s a shortstop now, but because of his size, a natural move to third base makes sense. But he has solid range that could play at second base as an offense-first middle infielder. If he, for some reason, cannot handle the infield, a corner outfield spot could be in his future. He has plenty of arm strength for right field, if need be. He’s athletic enough to handle most spots on the diamond.
Video courtesy of Prospect Pipeline (Steve Fiorindo)
Jones is committed to Virginia, which has been a baseball powerhouse in recent years. But he should be signable with a more than $2 million bonus allotment for the 20th pick.
The Dodgers are looking at prep position players, and Jones is one of the best available. The Red Sox are said to be quite interested in him (they pick 12th), so he might not even make it to No. 20. And if the Dodgers don’t nab him at 20, there’s almost no chance he makes it to No. 32.