PHOENIX — It wasn’t long before the D-backs reached an agreement with outfielder Druw Jones, their first-choice in the 2022 MLB Draft, as the two sides have agreed to an $8,189,400 bonus, a source told MLB .com’s Jim Callis. The club has not confirmed the deal, which is pending a physical.
That’s the full closing value for the No. 2 pick and the largest Draft bonus given to a high school player, breaking the previous record $7.7 million that Bobby Witt Jr. received from the Royals in 2019 is surpassed.
Jones, the son of five-time MLB All-Star Andruw Jones, was ranked as the No. 1 Draft prospect by MLB Pipeline. In his final season at Wesleyan High School in Georgia, Jones hit .445 with an OPS of 1,494, 16 home runs and 14 steals in 38 games before being named the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year.
“I’m just ready to go out and play for some kind of organization that is ready for young guys to continue their careers and win a championship,” Jones said Sunday night after being called up.
This marks the second year in a row that the D-backs have bagged a player who was ranked in the top three prospects by MLB Pipeline and headed for the Draft. In 2021, shortstop Jordan Lawlar finished third and sixth overall by Arizona.
After being selected, Jones talked about the D-backs’ desire to build a championship around a core of young players, and that group is starting to come into the picture.
Centerfielder Alek Thomas, rightfielder Daulton Varsho and shortstop Geraldo Perdomo are already contributing at the big league level, and another first round pick, outfielder Corbin Carroll, who was selected in the 2019 Draft, dominated at Double-A Amarillo and promoted to Triple-A. A Reno just before the All-Star break.
That’s a rapid increase, especially considering there were no Minor League games in 2020, when Carroll missed all but a few games of the ’21 season due to a right shoulder injury. He is now one step away from donning a D-backs uniform, something that could happen in September or at the latest next year.
Lawlar also moves fast, jumping from Single-A Visalia to High-A Hillsboro before the break, and both he and Carroll represented the D-backs in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.
Then there are the pitchers that Arizona has drafted since 2019.
Tommy Henry, Ryne Nelson and Drey Jameson are with Triple-A Reno, while Brandon Pfaadt, Bryce Jarvis, Slade Cecconi and Blake Walston are with Double-A Amarillo. Six of the seven are in the top 10 in the MLB Pipeline rankings of the Arizona farming system, and the one that isn’t (Henry) is number 13.
While the pitchers’ numbers may not look too impressive right now, keep in mind that both Reno and Amarillo are extremely hitter-friendly parks.
“In the first half you get beat up a bit,” said D-backs pitching coach Brent Strom. “Flyballs fly in all directions and go out, and you get a little discouraged. But now they’re starting to grind back in.
“The walk rates have gone down, the percentage of first-pitch strikes has gone up, winning the first three pitches has gone up — two of the first three pitches are strikes, or at least the creation of contact. All those different stats that our front office offers give us a better idea of who we can get if and when they get here.”
There are no guarantees when it comes to prospects, but from quantity comes quality, and the D-backs did a good job building that depth through the Draft. The last three days were a sequel to that.
“I think it’s just a testament to all the work that our scouts and all our front office people, our analysts, have done,” said Ian Rebhan, Arizona’s Scouting Director. “We’re just incredibly thorough. I think our process has been great. It’s always nice to see results on the pitch and that exciting group of prospects we have in the Minor Leagues.”