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From the Crow's Nest: Virginia RHP Connor Jones

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The RHP out of Virginia figures to be gone within the first fifteen picks of the 2016 MLB Draft.

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to 'From the Crow's Nest', a series in which we'll examine a few prospects the Mariners could take with their first pick in the 2016 MLB Draft. This will be a regular Sunday morning post from now until the start of the draft, giving us a total of 10-15 players to look and yell and disagree and dream about. So sit back, finish your coffee, and get your scouting cap on. First up, we have Connor Jones, a RHP out of Virginia with an endless array of pitches.

At A Glance

Name

Connor Jones

Position

RHP

School (year)

University of Virginia (jr)

Ht ; Wt

6’3", 200 lbs

Born

October 10, 1994

Previously drafted?

SDP - 21st rd (2013)

MLB.com prospect rank

11th

BA prospect rank

7th

The Rundown

Jones has excelled since the moment he arrived at Virginia. His freshman year, he racked up 50 2/3 IP as a reliever, second most on the team, before shifting to a starting role his sophomore season. He really made a name for himself in his second year, posting a 3.19 ERA and 113 strikeouts over 115 2/3 IP and 18 starts, several of which were made in either tough ACC competition or postseason play. Jones made two starts for the Cavaliers in the 2015 College World Series, beating Arkansas in the opener before dropping Game 1 of the CWS final to Vanderbilt.

So far in his junior campaign, Jones has done nothing to hurt his stock. Through seven starts, he's posted a 2.66 ERA and has significantly improved his walk rate.

In terms of stuff, Jones has a pretty entertaining arsenal. He throws a fastball that ranges anywhere from the low to mid-90s with good command and movement. Jones goes right after hitters with a four-seamer and induces weak contact with a sinker. He boasts plenty of offspeed pitches, including a curveball and slider that he seems comfortable throwing for strikes and a changeup that flashes potential but doesn't seem nearly as polished as his other pitches. He's also developed a pretty filthy splitter during his time at Virginia:

In terms of overall projection, Jones appears to be a higher-floor, lower-ceiling pitcher compared to the other pitching prospects you'll see going this early in the draft. He's one of the more polished arms in the country and has the potential to be very good, very quickly, but nothing about him screams 'future MLB ace'. Danny Hultzen has probably left M's fans cringing at the thought of "Virginia pitcher who should move through minors quickly and develop into solid No. 2/3 starter", but Jones is darn good and he'd be a perfectly fine pick at 11.