Nolan Jones
21-Year-Old Third Baseman3B
Cleveland Indians AA
Injury Thumb
Est. Return 2/1/2020
2020 Fantasy Outlook
Jones has been at least 47% better than the average hitter in every full-season league he has played in while being young for each level. His 14.7 BB% was the fourth-best mark in the Eastern League, but it was the worst rate of Jones' career. Just based on where he hits the ball (evenly distributed to all fields) and how he hits it (a lot of linedrives and flyballs), his hit tool would rate as one of the best in the minors. However, strikeouts linger as the lone blemish. He has a career 26.7 K% and had a 29.9 K% at Double-A. Jones struggled to make contact in 15 games in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .200 with four HR and a 31:8 K:BB. Thumb surgery cut his AFL run short, but he is expected to be ready for spring training. Jones should become Cleveland's everyday third baseman in 2021, and will be either a big four-cat or big three-cat contributor, depending on whether it's an OBP or AVG league. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a contract with the Indians in July of 2016 that includes a $2.25 million signing bonus.
Undergoes surgery
3BCleveland Indians  AA
October 24, 2019
Jones underwent surgery on his right thumb Wednesday, but hopes to be ready for the start of spring training, Zack Meisel of The Athletic reports.
The 21-year-old made his way to Double-A Akron last season and hit .253/.370/.466 with eight home runs with the team. The surgery will likely hinder Jones' offseason training, but it's encouraging that the team is hoping he'll be ready for spring training next season.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
While no longer underrated in OBP dynasty leagues (walk rates between 16.2% and 20% at every pro stop), Jones is still under-appreciated among many who play in standard formats. He boasts an exquisite all-fields approach -- the last time more than 39% of his hits went to one third of the field was in rookie ball -- and still shows off his plus power in games. His 147 wRC+ ranked third among Midwest League hitters (min. 300 PA) and his 162 wRC+ ranked second among Carolina League hitters (min. 100 PA). At 6-foot-4 and roughly 195 pounds, he is a below-average runner, but has worked diligently on his defense at third base and should be able to stick at the position. Plenty of strikeouts (25.2 K%) come with all his walks and power production, but he doesn't swing and miss at an unmanageable clip. The Indians may send him to Double-A ahead of his 21st birthday in May, setting up a likely 2020 MLB debut.
The second youngest hitter in the New York-Penn League last year, Jones led the league in wRC+ (171) while ranking second in walk rate (16.2 percent) and sixth in BB/K (0.72). He has pedigree ($2.25 million bonus in 2016), great size (6-4, 185 pounds) and is a good athlete, although he is not much of a runner. He could handle right field or first base if he needs to move off third base down the road, but he is improving with the glove and won’t be moved anytime soon. Jones can work the count and hit to all fields -- an area he has really improved since entering pro ball. In 2016, 45.9 percent of his hits went to the pull side, but last year he cut that mark to 37.7 percent. He shows excellent plate coverage, and is more than willing to take what pitchers give him. With such an impressive foundation, it’s only a matter of time before his plus raw power starts regularly showing up in games.
Jones was expected to come off the board in the first round, but he fell to the Indians at No. 55. However, his $2.25 million bonus ranked 25th in the 2016 class, so he still got paid like a first rounder. At 6-foot-4, 185 pounds, he is still filling out, but should physically resemble a typical middle-of-the-order third baseman in time. A prep product from the Northeast (Pennsylvania) who won't turn 19 until May, it is not surprising that Jones struggled somewhat to adjust to pro pitching, but he still demonstrated a keen eye (17.2 percent walk rate) in the Arizona League. His initial lack of power production does not reflect his long-term projection, as many evaluators think his swing and physique will lead to plus power with an average or better hit tool at maturity. If his contact skills improve and he retains his awareness of the strike zone, all the traits are there for Jones to develop into a special hitter in four or five years.
More Fantasy News
Advancing to Double-A
3BCleveland Indians  AA
July 6, 2019
Jones will be promoted to Double-A Akron following Sunday's Futures Game, Jordan Wolf of reports.
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On fire at High-A
3BCleveland Indians  AA
August 23, 2018
Jones went 3-for-5 with a home run, double and four RBI in High-A Lynchburg's 7-6 win over Potomac on Wednesday.
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Graduates from Low-A
3BCleveland Indians  AA
August 8, 2018
Jones is 4-for-20 with a home run and 9:2 K:BB in six games since his promotion to High-A Lynchburg.
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Activated from disabled list Saturday
3BCleveland Indians  AA
April 14, 2018
Jones (knee) was activated from the 7-day disabled list Saturday.
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Placed on disabled list
3BCleveland Indians  AA
April 7, 2018
Jones was placed on the seven-day disabled list with knee soreness Saturday.
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