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Spencer Jones quickly shows why Yankees are believers

TAMPA — Yankees phenom Spencer Jones sent a long, loud message in his first at-bat of major league camp, hitting a 470-foot home run off Tigers’ major league right-hander Morgan Englert at Joker Merchant Stadium.

The ball hit into the right field seats was a bomb. The message to the Yankees was clear: You were right not to trade me.

There’s so much to like about young Jones that the Yankees turned down deals from major league stars Corbin Burnes and Dylan Schiess, as well as his new Yankee teammate, hard-hitting superstar Juan Soto. is.

Can’t blame them. It’s not a moment or two, it just happens to be how long it takes the fleet-footed Jones to get down to the first base line.

Jones is a nice, polite kid working toward a degree from Vanderbilt University while learning from superstar Aaron Judge and other great veterans here at camp, but what sets him apart is the tools. is. It’s power (as we saw), but more than that, it’s speed, which is shocking for anyone within just a few meters of Judge’s height (he’s 6’6”).

He touted power, but it’s speed they can’t overcome. According to The Athletic, the center fielder reached third base in 11 seconds, a time bettered by only Corbin Carroll, Elie Delacruz and Jose Siri in the majors. Judge and Giancarlo Stanton have more power (these two have more power than anyone in terms of Shohei Ohtani). But it’s unclear whether anyone here can catch up to Jones in a foot race.

Spencer Jones turned heads with his 470-foot home against the Tigers. Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

“[He’s] Obviously a big guy, but he can fly. He can legally fly,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.

Jones is likely to be ticketed to Double-A, but ultimately is seen as a future 30-30 big leaguer, which makes him a key part of trade talks, as first reported by the Post. This is why the Yankees didn’t flinch when Jones’ name was mentioned as a piece. . Rumors of a trade between Soto and the Padres aroused particular interest among his hometown friends in Encinitas, California, 40 miles north of San Diego. His high school friends were excitedly relaying all the social media posts speculating about a trade to San Diego, but the calm and informed Jones didn’t falter for a second.

His response was only a moment of flattery. Jones summed up the Yankees’ decision to keep him, rather than trade him for a high-profile immediate addition, in the manner of a particularly collegial 22-year-old.

“That’s cool, dude,” Jones said. “It’s great to be noticed in that regard.”

Spencer Jones has the tools to be an All-Star. Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Jones, who hit 16 home runs and stole 43 bases between High-A Hudson Valley and Double-A Somerset, is on most prospect lists, but one of the more prominent public editorials , it’s strange that they don’t even include Jones in the top 100 of their rankings. major. This service explained why he did not make the coveted list. But the team clearly has its own analytical capabilities, and Jones is considered a star in waiting in that analysis.

By giving up half of their rotation depth, the Yankees were able to land Soto, a slugging superstar who happens to be locked in about 5 feet from Jones here. Barnes instead went to the rival Orioles, and the White Sox kept Seeds. Seeds still has two years left, and there is ample opportunity for his stock to increase after a tough 2023 season.

Jones’ value isn’t all that high right now, but he admits he has work to do, even writing notes to himself at the beginning and end of camp days. The Vendian is working on it in his second semester until his graduation, but is very studious and welcomes any suggestions from the judges and other greats here. “I have all the ears,” he said.

Yankees outfielder Spencer Jones celebrates with his teammates after hitting a home run in the fifth inning. AP

He, like Judge, was a late first-round pick at No. 25 overall in the 2022 draft, and appears to be quite the find as well. (Unfortunately, the nomination was delayed because the Yankees have a winning record for 32 consecutive seasons). For men, scouts envision star potential, even if the journalists making the list don’t quite understand it.

“It’s an All-Star tool,” one scout said.

“From a sports perspective, it’s off the charts in so many categories,” says another.

Spencer Jones reached Double-A last season. Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

He’s almost in the can’t-miss category. However, the scout has some questions. Jones has 155 strikeouts in 480 at-bats in 2023, which is an issue. “The power is real, but he needs some adjustments in his swing and hand position,” said one National League scout.

He also had a slightly higher ground ball rate, but considering Yankee Stadium’s short porch, it makes sense that a left-handed hitter with potential would aim for fly balls. “The ultimate goal is to get the ball a little more in the air this year,” he said.

Because of his out-of-this-world speed, scouts expect him to stick around at center, which is part of what makes him so valuable. He also has a big arm and was a two-way player at Vanderbilt. It’s his bat that will ultimately determine how much of a star he becomes, but the signs are increasingly positive, starting with Saturday’s monster bomb. Forget about prospect rankings. The Yankees are clearly believers, and many other major league clubs appear to be as well.

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