The 2019 MLB draft has a historically talented group of shortstops. From Bobby Witt, Jr and Bryson Stott to Brady McConnell, talent and loud tools abound. Perhaps none have a single tool louder than Greg Jones of UNC Wilmington.
Greg Jones 2019 MLB Draft Profile
Greg Jones slashed .341/.491/.543 this season with 12 doubles, nine triples, and five home runs. He also walked more than he struck out. That alone makes for an intriguing offensive profile. However, Jones brings a bit more to the table than that.
In a word, speed. The biggest bit of disagreement surrounding Jones is whether he is the fastest player in the draft, or merely one of them. MLB.com says Jones is the fastest, giving him a top-of-the-scale 80 grade as a runner. While other scouting profiles disagree, none grade him lower than a 70. Greg Jones is fast.
As a sophomore in 2019, Jones went 42 for 52 in stolen base attempts. He also added nine triples. Whatever his other tools, there is no doubting that Jones can impact a game on the bases.
However, Jones does have other tools. He had 26 extra-base hits in 233 at-bats. After striking out nearly a third of the time as a freshman, Jones drastically cut his strikeout rate while boosting his walk and contact rates as a sophomore. After 70 strikeouts as a freshman, that number dropped to 44 as a sophomore while his walks rose from 33 to 55. His improved plate discipline also resulted in increased contact and quality of contact as his numbers rose across the board from .278/.412/.370 to .341/.491/.543.
While Jones’ elite speed gives him plenty of value on the basepaths, he has yet to figure out how to harness it defensively. His arm and glove both have the potential to be above average, but his defense remains a work in progress.
Jones made 15 errors as a sophomore, which was actually a marked improvement over the 25 he made as a freshman. Despite his speed, he seems to have slow reactions and frequently makes poor throws, even if they do not result in errors.
Offensively, Jones is a switch-hitter but has yet to show the ability to tap into home run power from either side of the plate. His power grades as fringe-average, and his hit tool grades as only average, meaning that his improved plate discipline must stick for him to have an impact. The general belief is that Jones can stick as an up the middle defender but may end up in center field instead of at shortstop.
If Jones is able to sort out his defensive issues, his speed could give him an offensive profile similar to that of Rafael Furcal or B.J. Upton. Upton, too, was drafted as a shortstop before moving to the outfield. At the other end of the spectrum is the maddening Jonathan Villar (random monster season aside). For most of his career, Villar has struggled to make enough contact to use his elite speed while generally being a mixed bag defensively. Greg Jones is fast. His speed is among the loudest tools of any shortstop in the class. The question will be if he can do enough other things well to take advantage of that speed.