The Guardians have traded infielder Nolan Jones to the Rockies for infield prospects Juan Brito, in keeping with an announcement from Cleveland. It’s an out-of-the-blue swap of gifted younger gamers.
Jones, a former second-round decide, appeared amongst Baseball America’s listing of the sport’s prime 100 prospects every season from 2019-21. He persistently put up high quality numbers within the minor leagues, posting a few of the recreation’s highest stroll charges to run top-tier on-base marks. Jones struggled a bit throughout his first crack at Triple-A in 2021 however nonetheless entered this yr amongst BA’s prime ten Cleveland prospects.
The 24-year-old began the season again at Triple-A, however he carried out higher in his second go-around on the degree. In 248 plate appearances, he put up a .276/.368/.463 line with 9 house runs. The Guardians referred to as him up for the primary time in July, and he picked up his first 92 huge league journeys to the plate. Jones hit solely .244/.309/.372 whereas placing out a 3rd of the time in that restricted look, however there’s nonetheless a lot to be intrigued about in his long-term profile.
Jones owns a .252/.361/.443 mark throughout 655 plate appearances on the Triple-A degree. He’s walked in 13.7% of his journeys to the dish there whereas connecting on 22 house runs and 36 doubles. A lofty 28.4% strikeout price results in some questions on his bat-to-ball abilities, however the mixture of energy and plate self-discipline makes him an intriguing addition for the Rox.
The Philadelphia native got here up as a 3rd baseman, though he more and more noticed extra motion within the nook outfield this yr. Prospect evaluators have lengthy advised he might be an satisfactory defender on the scorching nook, however the place was clearly spoken for long-term in Cleveland by Jose Ramirez. The Rockies have already got a franchise third baseman of their very own — albeit not one among Ramírez’s caliber — in Ryan McMahon. With McMahon enjoying elite protection on the scorching nook, Jones will in all probability issue extra instantly into the nook outfield and designated hitter combine. The Rockies have Charlie Blackmon for an additional yr to separate time between proper discipline and DH, whereas Chris Bryant will hopefully keep wholesome and lock down left discipline. CJ Cron is the presumptive starter at first base, however Colorado can rotate Jones’ left-handed bat into the combo alongside Cron whereas additionally preserving Blackmon off his toes extra typically.
Turning to Cleveland’s finish of the swap, they land an fascinating lower-level prospect from an enhancing Colorado farm system. Brito, who just lately turned 21, spent the whole 2022 season in Low-A. He hit .286/.407/.470 with 11 house runs via 497 plate appearances, strolling in a wonderful 15.7% of his journeys in opposition to a meager 14.3% strikeout share. Baseball America solely positioned the Dominican Republic native thirtieth on its midseason rating of the Colorado farm system, however Guardians evaluators are clearly way more bullish on his upside.
Brito has performed virtually completely second base within the minors. He’s not considered a very spectacular defender or athlete, however he is a switch-hitting center infielder with a wonderful minor league observe document. The Guardians have prioritized gamers with spectacular bat-to-ball abilities and the power to play a key defensive place, and Brito actually matches that mildew.
With Brito already eligible for the Rule 5 draft, Cleveland instantly chosen him onto the 40-man roster. The Guardians typically navigate roster churn across the Rule 5 date as they swap out depth varieties or gamers who’re changing into extra pricey by way of arbitration for additional away expertise. This isn’t that form of transfer, nonetheless. Both gamers occupy a 40-man spot, and neither is inside two years of reaching arbitration. Both can nonetheless be optioned to the minor leagues — Jones for yet one more yr, Brito thrice. Brito absolutely will not issue into the MLB combine straight away, however this marks an enchanting swap of unproven younger gamers — one seemingly motivated by every group merely valuing the participant they’re bringing in additional than the participant they’re transport away, not by contractual provisions or roster reshuffling.
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