PHOENIX — It didn’t take long for the D-Backs to reach an agreement with outfielder Druw Jones, their first-round pick in the 2022 MLB Draft, as the two sides agreed on an $8,189,400 bonus, a source said MLB.com with Jim Callis. The club have not confirmed the agreement, which is subject to a physical review.
That’s full slot value for the #2 pick and the largest draft bonus given to a high school player, beating the previous record of $7.7 million set by Bobby Witt Jr. in 2019 received the royals.
Jones, the son of five-time MLB All-Star Andruw Jones, was ranked the #1 draft prospect by MLB Pipeline. In his senior season at Wesleyan High School in Georgia, Jones averaged a .445 with 1,494 OPS, 16 homers 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 some kind of organization that’s ready for young people to be able to continue their careers and win a league,” Jones said after being drafted Sunday night.
This is the second year in a row that the D-Backs have picked up a player ranked in the top three draft picks by MLB Pipeline. In 2021, shortstop Jordan Lawlar finished third and Arizona finished sixth overall.
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, selected in the 2019 draft, dominated at Double-A Amarillo and was promoted to Triple-A Reno just before the All-Star break.
That’s a rapid rise, especially considering there were no minor league games in 2020, then Carroll missed all but a couple of season 21 games with a right shoulder injury. He is now one step away from donning a D-Backs uniform, something that could happen in September or next year at the latest.
Lawlar is also moving fast, 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 that 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 in the top 10 in the Arizona farm system’s MLB pipeline rankings, and the one that isn’t (Henry) is ranked 13th.
While the number of pitchers doesn’t look too impressive right now, keep in mind that both Reno and Amarillo are extremely hitter-friendly parks.
“You get a little beat up in the first half,” said D-Backs pitching coach Brent Strom. “Flyballs fly all over the place and go out and you get a little discouraged. But now they are beginning to refine again.
“Walk rates have gone down, percentage of first pitch strikes have gone up, winning the first three pitches has gone up — getting two of the first three pitches as strikes, or at least making contact. All of these different metrics provided by our front office give us a better picture of who we could be getting if they come here.”
There are no guarantees when it comes to prospects, but quality comes with quantity, and the D-backs did a good job of building that depth through the draft. The last 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 guys, our analysts, have done,” said Arizona scouting director Ian Rebhan. “We’re just incredibly thorough. I think our process was great. It’s always nice to see results on the field and this exciting group of prospects that we have in the minor leagues.”