The Atlanta Braves have added former SF Giants top prospect Ryder Jones on a minor league deal. However, the 28-year-old announced recently on social media that he would be making a transition to the mound.
Former SF Giants top prospect makes surprising career change
Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area noted the career change as soon as the deal was announced:
The Giants selected Jones in the second round of the 2013 draft out of Watauga High School in Boone, North Carolina. The Giants struck gold in the past by selecting a high school prospect out of North Carolina (Hello, Madison Bumgarner), they were hoping to do it again.
Jones had committed to Stanford University, but the Giants were able to sway him away from that commitment with an $880,000 signing bonus. Oddly enough, he could have been teammates with Austin Slater in 2014. They wound up being teammates just a couple of years later in 2017 and 2018.
The infield prospect rose gradually up the minor league ladder, which is not too uncommon for a high school draftee. He displayed occasional power with the ability to move around the field.
Jones began to make some noise in Triple-A in 2017 where he posted a .944 OPS with 10 home runs in 228 plate appearances for the Sacramento River Cats before earning a promotion to the Giants. Finding that first hit was a tough one as Jones did not have an official batting average until his seventh game.
He was sent back down shortly thereafter but returned to San Francisco at the end of the year. The left-handed struggled to the tune of a .173/.244/.273 line (37 OPS+) with just two home runs, five RBI, and 12 runs in 164 plate appearances in 2017.
In a very small sample, Jones showed a lot more promise in the following year as he blasted two home runs in eight at-bats, but he suffered a knee injury in the middle of a swing that put him on the shelf for the remainder of the year. That was Jones' last major league appearance.
He has bounced around with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox before landing with the Braves. The move to the mound is an interesting one, but Jones flashed a good arm as a prospect, so it could be a seamless transition.