|Damon Jones, image- Jay Floyd|
Left-handed pitcher Damon Jones used an exceptional 2019 season to catapult himself toward the top of the list of names being discussed as top options to help the Phillies' pitching pitching staff.
An 18th round draft selection in 2017, out of Washington State, Jones began his professional career as a member of the short-season Class A Williamsport Crosscutters. In 13 appearances, all in relief, that season, the six-foot-five 238-pounder notched a 2-3 record with three saves, a 4.85 ERA, a .240 batting average against and a 13.2 K/9 mark.
The following year Jones had a strong campaign with Class A Lakewood. In 23 games (22 starts), Jones tallied a 10-7 record with a 3.41 ERA, a .247 batting average against as well as a 9.8 K/9 mark.
In 2019, Jones opened the year with a stretch that earned him a promotion and loads of regard as a true up-and-comer for the Phils organization. With Class A Advanced Clearwater, Jones would post a 4-3 record with a 1.54 ERA and a .188 batting average against in 11 starts. He moved up Double-A Reading and made a splash in that rotation as well. In four starts, Jones sported a 1-0 record, a 0.82 ERA and a .129 batting average against.
He would move upward a second time in mid-July, making his final eight starts of the regular season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The statistical production came back down to Earth a bit there, as it took longer for Jones to adjust to the highest level of the minor leagues. He would notch a 0-1 record with a 6.62 ERA, a 1.56 WHIP and a .214 batting average against as a member of the IronPigs.
Jones continued to deliver strong strike out numbers throughout the full season in 2019, as he posted a 12.0 K/9 mark.
Despite looking like a power pitcher with considerable K numbers, Jones uses his fastball that gets up to 96 and 97 MPH to induce plenty of ground ball outs. His strong curve ball is the out pitch that garners most of the strike outs for the big man. He also offers a slider that has good, horizontal movement and a change up that remains a work in progress, as he tries to refine it.
In May last year, Jones described to me how working his fastball to the inside and the outside against opposing batters was changing the look they were getting and helped him keep hitters off of his breaking pitches and his change up.
Command is a big positive for Jones. It's a part of his game that impresses his coaches the most.
Jones has been invited to big league spring training, as a non-roster player. He'll have the opportunity to work with the big league coaches and learn from the staff there, which is a major plus for the 25-year-old.
The ceiling for Jones is expected to be a big league starter. He could make a splash with the Phils this coming season, when an opportunity opens up, but I would expect him to open 2020 back with the IronPigs.
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