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The Road to The Show™: Yankees’ Jones

No. 73 overall prospect sets himself apart with power, speed
Spencer Jones led all Yankees' Minor Leaguers with 29 doubles and 43 stolen bases in 2023. (Sandy Tambone/
November 7, 2023

Each week, profiles an elite prospect by chronicling the steps he's taken toward achieving his Major League dream. Here's a look at top Yankees prospect Spencer Jones. For more stories about players on The Road to The Show, click here. With a towering 6-foot-6 frame and elite power potential,

Each week, profiles an elite prospect by chronicling the steps he's taken toward achieving his Major League dream. Here's a look at top Yankees prospect Spencer Jones. For more stories about players on The Road to The Show, click here.

With a towering 6-foot-6 frame and elite power potential, Spencer Jones has, rather unfairly, drawn comparisons to Aaron Judge since before he was a Yankees prospect.

Currently the Bombers’ top prospect, Jones leads a system that features three outfielders in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 vying for a spot alongside the 2022 American League MVP in the Bronx. As he advanced from High-A Hudson Valley to Double-A Somerset in his first full season, Jones showed off a tool that may separate him from the pack. And, coincidentally, the Judge comparisons.

This season, the 22-year-old led the Yankees system with 43 stolen bases. Even with new rules encouraging more action on the bases, Jones, who stole just 18 bases in college, recorded exactly as many steals in 2023 as Judge has in eight Major League seasons.

Besides their physical size, Jones and Judge share an ability to make hard contact, and that's fueled most of the comparisons. Even during his amateur days.

As a junior at Vanderbilt, Jones reportedly hit 22 balls over 110 mph, including a 119 mph single. During the MLB Draft combine in 2022, he averaged 103.6 mph on the balls he put in play, including the day’s highest exit velocity, 112.2 mph.

But that ability didn’t shine through for Jones at his potentially elite level this season. Even during what amounted to a successful year at the plate. Jones batted .267 with a .780 OPS across both levels, belting 16 homers, driving in 66 runs and scoring 71 times.

His 28.9 percent strikeout rate comes with the territory for a power hitter. But he hit the ball on the ground nearly 47 percent of the time and likely went to the opposite field (40.2 percent) almost too much.

He still managed to lead the system with 29 doubles, but those hard-hit balls should result in more homers. Yankees player development director Eric Schmitt said that should happen naturally as the lefty hits the ball in the air more, particularly to the pull side.

Although he saw no reps in center field at Vanderbilt, Jones’ speed and athleticism have enabled the Yankees to play him exclusively at the position since the Draft. In his first 122 games at center, he’s committed six errors and recorded eight assists.

“We love how athletic he is and that he can play center field. He is a legitimate five-tool type guy with big power and plus speed,” Yankees vice president of domestic amateur scouting Damon Oppenheimer told after the Draft. “He has some of the best exit velocity in this year’s draft. We are really excited about his ceiling.”

Jones’ physical gifts were evident long before he first became Draft-eligible in 2019. He was a legitimate two-way prospect at La Costa Canyon HS in Carlsbad, California, and was the winner of the MLB/SiriusXM Two-Way Player Award at the 2018 PG All-American Classic. But an elbow fracture and his strong commitment to Vanderbilt caused him to fall to the Angels in the 31st round.

When his college career began, Jones still wasn’t ready to get on the mound for the Commodores and saw limited action as a hitter only. He got into 14 games, splitting time between first base and the corner outfield spots, before the season was halted by the pandemic.

He attempted to return to the mound that summer with the Santa Barbara Foresters in the California Collegiate League. But he suffered a torn UCL that required Tommy John surgery in July.

Upon his return to Vanderbilt in 2021, Jones was limited to a full-time DH role. He batted .274 with a .767 OPS, eight extra-base hits and 10 RBIs in 95 at-bats. After going a full season without playing the field, things started to return to normal for Jones that summer in the Cape Cod League.

Jones played for the Brewster Whitecaps, the same CCBL team that rostered Judge in 2012, during a breakout summer. Jones hit .312/.424/.481 with seven extra-base hits, 18 RBIs and six stolen bases in 25 games. The eye-popping exit velocities returned, and he was able to show off his range and athleticism in center field.

He was able to carry the momentum from his brilliant summer on the Cape into his junior year at Vanderbilt. Jones played his way into first-round contention, batting .370 with a 1.103 OPS, 12 homers, 60 RBIs and 14 steals in 61 games.

The Yankees nabbed Jones with the 25th overall pick and he later signed to a full slot-value deal worth $2,880,800.

Following the Draft, Jones hit the ground running in the Rookie-level Florida Complex League and Single-A Tampa. He played in 25 games during his first Minor League season, batting .344/.425/.538 with four homers and 12 RBIs while going 12-for-12 on stolen base attempts.

Last spring, the Yankees gave Jones his first Grapefruit League opportunity. He got into seven games and went 4-for-12 at the plate, with all of his hits coming in his final seven at-bats.

That momentum continued at Hudson Valley, where Jones batted .308 with seven homers and 27 RBIs over the first 27 games of the season. He cooled a bit after the initial hot streak but bounced back to run a 17-game on-base streak that bookended his appearance in the All-Star Futures Game. Jones drew a walk and a strikeout during the prospect showcase at T-Mobile Field in Seattle.

By the time he was promoted to Somerset in August, Jones compiled a .268 average and .787 OPS with 13 homers, 28 doubles, 56 RBIs and 35 stolen bases. He performed well for the Patriots at the tail end of the year, batting .357 with five RBIs and seven steals in the final 10 regular season games, including a 7-for-14 stretch to close out the year.

This season, the Yankees promoted Jasson Domínguez, who somehow debuted with even loftier expectations, and Everson Pereira – the other two outfielders in that Top 100 trio – to the Majors after they began the year at Double-A. Jones seems to be on a similar timeline, and should get more opportunities to prove himself against advanced competition and even share a field with Judge this spring.

Gerard Gilberto is a reporter for