Name: Nolan Jones
Born: Langhorne, Pennsylvania
Age: 18 (5/7/1998)
Height/Weight: 6'4"/195 lbs
School: Holy Ghost Prep (Bensalem, Pennsylvania)
It has been almost seven years since a position player from Pennsylvania was selected in the first round of the draft. That is likely to change, as an MLB team will almost undoubtedly selected Nolan Jones in the first round this year. Born in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, Jones has split his time between two of the most popular sports in the northeast: baseball and hockey. While he and his brother played both sports, their paths diverged two years ago, as Nolan will hear his name called during the MLB draft, while his older brother, Peyton, will very possibly be selected in the NHL draft.
Nolan first caught the eyes of scouts and evaluators years ago, when he began participating in national competitions and showcases. Today, scores of scouts attend every game he plays, scrutinizing his every move to glean as much information out of a few at-bats or a few plays on the field as possible.
Jones's senior year began slowly, as he tweaked his back and missed the beginning of the season. Once he got back on the field, he did what he does best: punish pitchers. In nineteen games, Jones hit an astounding .636/.750/1.181, establishing his dominance as a hitter. Not to be outdone elsewhere on the diamond, he appeared on the mound for the Firebirds a handful of times, striking out 11 batters in eight innings. In the end, the Holy Ghost baseball team clinched a tie for the Bicentennial Athletic League title with a 12-1 win over Lower Moreland, in which Jones hit two home runs.
Jones has a commitment to the University of Virginia, and has said that he would be happy playing there.
What The Scouts Think
Jones is a multi-talented hitter. He has shown the ability to drive the ball to all fields thanks to above-average arm strength and bat speed. He loads his bottom half well, and puts his hands in a good position to hit. His swing path has a slight uppercut to it, allowing him to loft balls. Combining his uppercut with an explosive swing and impressive physical strength, Jones possesses above-average power.
His swing mechanics do, however, have kinks that need to be addressed. Jones's bat path is not very consistent, and his swing can get long. Given the somewhat limited competition Jones faced in high school, some have expressed concerns that some of his profile as a hitter is an illusion, as he had relatively few at-bats against premium talent. Indeed, in some of the earlier national competitions and showcases he attended, Jones's performance was pedestrian at best. As he has progressed and gotten more experience under his belt, however, the left-handed hitter has looked better and better in such events.
Jones put on roughly 30 pounds between his junior and senior years, focusing on power lifting to add explosiveness and power to his swing. Though the added exercise has had the intended effect, it has raised concerns as to whether or not Jones will be able to stay at shortstop as he ages. Despite his size, he has shown himself to be a competent defender, possessing soft hands, fluid actions, good instincts, and good glovework. Jones's arm is strong, and his throwing velocity has been measured in the low-90s.
Jones sees himself as a shortstop and prefers the position, despite a large frame that might profile better at third base. Still, he possesses plenty of athleticism, and will likely be a shortstop until his defense becomes a detriment to his team.