PHOENIX — It didn’t take the D-backs long to reach an agreement with outfielder Druw Jones, their first-round pick in the 2022 MLB Draft, as the two sides have agreed to an $8,189,400 bonus, a source told MLB.com’s Jim Callis. The club has not confirmed the agreement, which is pending a physical.
That is the full slot value for the No. 2 pick and the largest Draft bonus given to a high school player, topping the previous record of $7.7 million that Bobby Witt Jr. received from the Royals in 2019.
Jones, the son of five-time MLB All-Star Andruw Jones, was ranked as the No. 1 Draft prospect by MLB Pipeline. In his senior season at Georgia’s Wesleyan High School, Jones hit .445 with a 1,494 OPS, 16 home runs and 14 steals in 38 games before being named the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year.
“I’m just ready to go out there and play for a type of organization that is ready for young guys to be able to pursue their career and win a championship,” Jones said after being drafted Sunday night.
This is the second straight year the D-backs have nabbed a player who was ranked among the top three prospects by MLB Pipeline heading into the Draft. In 2021, shortstop Jordan Lawlar was ranked third and taken sixth overall by Arizona.
After being selected, Jones spoke about the D-backs’ desire to build a championship around a core of young players, and that group is beginning to come into focus.
Center fielder Alek Thomas, right fielder Daulton Varsho and shortstop Geraldo Perdomo are already contributing at the big league level, and another first-round pick, outfielder Corbin Carroll, who was selected in the 2019 Draft, dominated at Double-A Amarillo and was promoted to Triple-A Reno just prior to the All-Star break.
That is a rapid rise, especially considering there were no Minor League games in 2020, then Carroll missed all but a few games of the ’21 season because of a right shoulder injury. He’s now one step away from putting on a D-backs uniform, something that could happen in September, or at the latest, next year.
Lawlar, too, is moving quickly, jumping from Single-A Visalia to High-A Hillsboro before the break, and both he and Carroll represented the D-backs in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.
Then, there are the pitchers Arizona has drafted since 2019.
Tommy Henry, Ryne Nelson and Drey Jameson are with Triple-A Reno, while Brandon Pfaadt, Bryce Jarvis, Slade Cecconi and Blake Walston are with Double-A Amarillo. Six of the seven are among the top 10 in MLB Pipeline’s ranking of the Arizona farm system, and the one that isn’t (Henry) is at No. 13.
While the pitchers’ numbers may not look overly impressive at the moment, consider that both Reno and Amarillo are extremely hitter-friendly parks.
“The first half, you get beat up a little bit,” D-backs pitching coach Brent Strom said. “Fly balls are flying all over the place and going out, and you get a little discouraged. But now, they’re starting to hone back in.
“The walk rates have gone down, the percentage of first-pitch strikes has gone up, winning the first three pitches has gone up — getting two out of the first three pitches be strikes, or at least creating contact. All those different metrics that our front office provides give us a better picture of who we might get if and when they come here.”
There are no guarantees when it comes to prospects, but out of quantity comes quality, and the D-backs have done a nice job of building that depth through the Draft. The past three days have been a continuation of that.
“I think it’s just a testament to all the work that our scouts and all of our front-office people, our analysts, have done,” Arizona scouting director Ian Rebhan said. “We’re just incredibly thorough. I think our process has been great. It’s always nice when you see results on the field and that exciting group of prospects that we have in the Minor Leagues.”