With the No. 22 pick in the draft, the Rays selected shortstop Greg Jones from UNC Wilmington.
College hitters are typically viewed as safer picks with less upside. That is not Jones.
He’s a draft-eligible sophomore who has greatly improved this season. He has game-changing speed and is one of the NCAA leaders in steals. He’s been making more contact this season with a reduced strikeout rate and increased walk rate.
He’s hit for some more power this season too, but reports are mixed on whether he has average power potential or below. He wasn’t great in the Cape Cod League last summer.
The reports are mixed on his defense as well. He has the tools to remain at shortstop, but the best use of his speed may be in center field, where he would be a very good defender.
Jones was ranked No. 51 in the draft by Baseball America, No. 62 by Keith Law at ESPN, No. 27 at FanGraphs, and No. 48 at MLB.com.
Although he wasn’t ranked as a certain first-round pick by every source, industry buzz in the recent week indicated this is the range where he would be selected.
A scout told Baseball America that Jones has the best speed they’ve ever scouted. MLB.com gave his speed the highest grade on the scale, 80.
#Rays select SS Greg Jones (UNC Wilmington) with No. 22 pick, source confirms.— Josh Tolentino (@JCTSports) June 4, 2019
Jones, 21, possesses raw power at plate. One scout tells me he could play OF in big leagues. Tampa Bay loves versatility with its prospects. Jones, 6-2, 190 pounds, named 2019 CAA Player of the Year. pic.twitter.com/umgrLyahEd
As far as the budget goes, FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen believes Jones will sign for roughly the slot value of the pick, $3,027,000.