A Little Bit More about LHP Chris Jones--the guy the Braves traded Derek Lowe for


It seems present day more than ever before, fans and followers of the game of baseball want to know about the ‘throw in’ guy in the deal. I think whereas many people who in the pass would pass it off as–’we just got a throw-in prospect’–acquiring a minor league player now is like holding the voucher to a possible lottery ticket. This lottery ticket could blossom into the form the next Cliff Lee or a perennial All-Star performer that bolsters the pitching staff for the next decade. That’s what is exciting about a prospect–past examples that show us that these relative unknowns are what really makes a franchise–along with the possibility of that occurring again and making us all big winners in said deal.

Obviously, the highlight of the trade that went yesterday was Major League pitcher Derek Lowe. That’s why in talk around the water cooler it’s going to be known as ‘The Derek Lowe Deal’.

This is ironic because it is likely that the prospect has more tread left on the tires and Major League value from this day forward than Derek Lowe. This Derek Lowe deal probably signals the beginning of the end for the 38-year old. Or just the end in general. After all, he is headed to Cleveland. This might end up being the Chris Jones deal (the past trade I remember the most for reversing in fortunes in my baseball life was the Bartolo Colon for Expos farm deal–literally. Sizemore, Lee, Brandon Phillips. Ugh.)

So let’s learn more about 23 year old prospect Chris Jones. First, from Seedlings to Stars:

Jones is a lefthanded pitcher who spent all of 2011 with the Kinston Indians (High-A). A 15th-round selection out of high school in 2007, he was initially deployed as a starting pitcher for most of his first three seasons. Finding only moderate success in that role, he was shifted to the bullpen in 2010.

He’s spent most of the past two years as part of Kinston’s relief corps, and perhaps it’s telling that his first year (2.37 ERA, 3.05 FIP) was better than his second (3.36 ERA, 3.74 FIP). Indeed, despite repeating the level in 2011, Jones saw an across-the-board decline in his peripheral statistics. That paints the picture of a player who is failing to progress, either due to his skills already being maximized or an inability to correct his weaknesses.

However, Jones just turned 23, so he’s still fairly young, and he’s certainly ready for Double-A action after pitching reasonably well for Kinston for all this time. Furthermore, as a lefty reliever, he’s heading to the more matchup-heavy league, where lefthanded specialists can carve out careers far more easily.

Jones does get lefties out quite well. He struck out more of them (29) than he allowed on base (13 BB, 12 H) in 2011, holding them to a .145 average. He’s a slider-heavy pitcher who can run his fastball up to 91-92 mph on occasion, and his quirky mechanics could play up in a specialist role.

Talking Chop says that Jones reminds them a little bit of a left-handed Kris Medlen. I like the comparison a lot based on video evidence, which they provide for us.

They’ve also got a snippet of Kevin Goldstein’s over at Baseball Prospectus on Jones:

Converted to relief in 2010, Jones has whiffed 151 over 162 innings over the past two year, but he’s also 23 and and has yet to reach Double-A, where he’ll likely begin the 2012 season with his new organization. A six-foot-two left-hander, Jones has average velocity and an effective, yet slurvy breaking ball, but it’s his quick, funky delivery and low arm angle that give him big-league potential. The stuff is nothing special, but the deception makes him highly effective against left-handed batters, who hit just .145/.265/.217 against him in 2011, going 12-for-83 with 29 strikeouts.

So hopefully this is the type of trade that you always remember where you were at for the Chris Jones trade.

At the very least, the Braves dumped some salary and have a guy who will have a chance to contribute at the Major League level in some capacity over the next few years. It will also be interesting to see how many more big league statistics Derek Lowe can tabulate this day forward, especially if you equate some of those stats out per dollar he will be paid.

Great idea for a future post. Done and done.

EDIT: The Braves are actually eating $10 million of Lowe’s salary in the deal for the Indians to take them off their hands.

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