Every year there are a few prospects who fly under the radar or are underrated by the fanbase. Taylor Jones hasn’t really flown under the radar but I do think he is a bit underrated in terms of his prospect status. Some of that may be due to his age, his production in a hitter’s paradise like the Pacific Coast League or some other factors. I think he is underrated and can be a guy who can contribute to the 2020 Astros (or maybe 2021 depending on how the season plays out).
Taylor Jones attended Kentwood High School in Washington. He was the #500 prospect in the nation coming out high school and Perfect Game noted he was a “very interesting two-way prospect” as a pitched and third baseman. Jones was drafted in the 35th round by the Cubs but he opted not to sign and attended Gonzaga University instead.
Jones played sparingly his first two seasons in college before having a breakout junior year where he hit .358 with 5 HR, 30 RBI. He followed that up with a solid senior year slashing .332/.399/.509 with 27 2B, 2 HR, 36 RBI. For a guy his size the lack of homers was bit perplexing. Jones ended up being drafted by the Astros in the 19th round of the 2016 draft.
Jones played in 70 games for Tri-City following the draft and finished with a .767 OPS and 8 HR, equaling his HR total from college (157 games). The next season Jones really struggled. He split time between A and A+ but finished the season with just a .222 BA and a 634 SLG. For an older prospect, this seemed like it would be tough to bounce back from.
But Jones definitely bounced back. He started the 2018 season in AA and came out of the gates on fire. Jones hit .354 in April with 13 XBH (10 2B, 3 HR) and .356 in May with another 13 XBH (6 2B, 7 HR). He played in 84 games in AA and slashed .314/.409/.528 with 25 2B, 13 HR, 63 RBI (155 OPS+) before being promoted to AAA. He finished the season playing in 39 games and had 5 HR, 17 RBI.
After a breakout year in 2018, it was intriguing to see how he would perform in 2019. For the 2019 season, Jones played in 125 games in AAA. He finished with a slash line of .291/.388/.501 with 28 2B, 22 HR, 84 RBI and a solid 12.8 BB%. The Astros also started to get Jones some versatility as he played 68 games at 1B, 27 games in LF, 15 games at 3B, and 3 games in RF.
So Jones has gone from a 6-7, 187 lb high school prospect, to a 19th round pick out of college, to a versatile prospect with a solid track record the last two seasons. He has established himself as a legit prospect, that not many know about. Jones should be able to contribute to the Astros soon, whenever baseball gets back to action.