At 4:31 p.m. on Sunday, the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the San Diego Padres 3-1, salvaging the finale of a three-game series and manufacturing much-needed momentum heading into the All-Star break. Ironically, it is hard to say if anyone was even watching.
That’s because at 4:26 p.m., the Diamondbacks selected 18-year-old outfielder Druw Jones with the No. 2 overall pick in the MLB Draft. With it, they sparked a wave of optimism unlike anything in recent franchise history.
Jones is far from unknown. As the son of five-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner Andruw Jones, he has been on scouts’ radars for years as one of the top available talents in the 2022 draft.
With plus-plus speed, elite center field defense, an excellent arm, good bat-to-ball skills and big-time power potential as he fills out his 6-foot-4, 180-pound frame, Jones was widely regarded as the top overall talent available in the draft.
For a third consecutive year, it is hard to imagine a better outcome in the first round for the D-backs.
Of course, there are no guarantees with draft prospects, particularly in Major League Baseball — and Jones is not without potential flaws.
Scouts have recently observed a lack of ability to pull the ball. Of all the problems for a young hitter to have, that is certainly not the worst. Some young hitters get pull-happy early in their careers and struggle to be impactful in the majors because of it. Still, Jones is going to have to figure out how to pull the ball more to tap into his power potential.
Jones’ hit tool in general seems to be the biggest question mark on his scouting report. He could blossom into an elite hitter, but it is also entirely feasible that he’s something like a .240-hitter when it is all said and done. His father Andruw had a career batting average of .254.
The good news is that if you look up Jones’ scouting report on FanGraphs, his list of strengths is simple: “everything.” If his hit tool doesn’t pan out the way some hope, his other tools are loud enough to carry him to a successful major-league career. That is why Jones’ selection at No. 2 is generally viewed as carrying lower risk than most other first-round high school picks.
There are certainly no guarantees in baseball, but that hasn’t stopped Diamondbacks fans — and local photographers like Danielle Cortez — from dreaming on what the team’s future outfield could look like.
Granted, Daulton Varsho has shown himself to be a worthy outfielder who figures to stay with the club for a long time, and some fans raised questions about where his playing time will come from if and when Jones hits the majors.
If fans are asking questions that stem from having too many star outfielders, your organization is probably in a pretty good spot.
A lot has to go right for Diamondbacks’ fans dreams to come true, but the fact that those dreams exist is a testament to the team’s collection of exciting young players that is on the way.
And if they do come true, fans are likely to look back on Sunday, July 17 as one of the most important days in franchise history: the day Druw Jones first donned a Diamondbacks hat.
Top photo: Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports