Seattle – Has the existence of Aaron Judge led the Yankees to their next Aaron Judge? The Yankees and Spencer Jones probably hope so.
Jones, a 6-foot-6-inch center fielder who admitted he’s heard “a lot” of comparisons to the Yankees’ 6-7 superstar, is rare as a giant baseball player who spends his time in the outfield. That on the mound…
Typically, taller players gravitate toward pitching in which their strength can translate into velocity. Conventional baseball wisdom says that the tall batter will have a hard time finding a consistent and short swing: There are too many moving parts and a long arm to swing through the strike zone.
But Judge, a first-round pick out of California in 2013, has developed into a superstar slugger.
The constant comparisons with the Yankees skipper won’t help Jones, who is also a first-round pick (in 2022) and also from California, but perhaps the presence of long-tenured players like Judge will serve as some motivation.
“It’s encouraging because there aren’t a lot of guys of our height who are running every day to play,” Jones said on Saturday as he went 0-1 as his American The league team had lost 5–0 to the National League. in the All-Star Futures Game at T-Mobile Park. “To see someone in our organization who has been able to do that and contribute is special.”
Jones, who is the Yankees’ no. 3 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, has a .800 OPS with 10 home runs in 68 games with High-A Hudson Valley.
The former Vanderbilt star — who also pitched before 2020 Tommy John surgery — brings extraordinary power, but unlike Judge, to the left.
The biggest hole in Jones’ game so far has been making consistent contact. Jones has struck out in 31.4 percent of his plate appearances this season and said he is working on removing some of the uppercut from his swing.
In Jones’ first at-bat on the prospects’ biggest stage, Jones struck out against Braves prospect Spencer Schwellenbach. He later drew a five-pitch walk against Mets prospect Mike Vasile.
“I’m constantly trying to find a spot to launch,” the 22-year-old said before the game. “last, [my swing] There was too much loft, too much swing and miss, too much vertical batting through the zone. So we are working on leveling it. …definitely a lot of progress has been made.”
His power and height are obvious, but Jones’ speed can surprise fans and opponents alike.
Jones, who also made a fine running grab to snatch a potential extra-base hit from Phillies prospect Justin Crawford, has stolen 21 bases this season.
“I’ve always been fast. But I never really had the tools as far as stealing bases,” said Jones, who credited Hudson Valley’s coaching and scouting reports.
Jones is developing an all-around game that he hopes to one day bring to the Bronx — and even to the tiny porch for lefty sluggers. Jones, Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, who is 6-6, could form an all-power-forward outfield.
Jones said he met Judge during spring training and they had a seemingly brief conversation during workouts.
“Just little things,” Jones said of the tips given by the judge. “We used to joke in the weight room that once you get to a certain size, it’s about moving the right way and not so much about strength. So it’s just little things like that.”
A judge’s advice can help. So does the fact that Judge has found a repeatable, powerful swing, despite longer limbs, that can inspire more spacious position players.
The fact that Jones can’t avoid the comparisons with Judge hasn’t helped, but she’s tried to embrace it.
“It’s special,” Jones said of the never-ending comparisons. “He’s one of the best players in baseball.”