The Cleveland Indians have had a very interesting season so far this year. Injuries and budget cuts have caused the team to dip into there farm system for help on the major league roster. Rookie Oscar Mercado is currently the Indians starting center fielder. Rookie Zack Pleasac is holding down one spot in the pitching rotation despite struggling in his last outing. Bobby Bradley was recently summoned from AAA to play first base and DH. Jefrey Rodriguez aquitted himself quite well in the rotation before succombing to injuries. Aaron Civale pitched six innings.of two hit shutout baseball in his one spot start. Finally, Yu Chang took Jose Ramirez‘s spot over the weekend while he was on maternity leave.
While Minnesota has rocketed out of the gate to start the season, the Indians rookies have been invaluable. The contributions of the many rookies has kept Cleveland within striking distance at 8 games back of the first place Twins. Going forward, Cleveland’s best chance in overtaking the Twins and making some noise in the post season involves the rookies contributing even more heavily as the season progresses.
While all this has happened to the major league roster, the Indians top ranked position player in the minor leagues, Nolan Jones, is quietly having another solid season in high-A Lynchburg. At the plate Jones is having another outstanding season. He is currently batting .286 with an OPS of .852. Jones was not hitting for much power early in the season but he started driving the ball more in the last six weeks and currently has 18 extra base hits. Jones has always been a line drive hitter with power potential.
Where he really seperates himself from most all of his peers is his superior ability to get on base. In 311 plate appearances Jones has already walked an incredible 63 times. Jones has an astronomical on base percentage of .437. Let that sink in for a minute. His OBP is .437. He is getting on base nearly 44 percent of the time. Although he has only five stolen bases in eight attempts, you could make an argument that he should bat leadoff with such a high OBP. Think off Carlos Santant from two seasons ago when he batted leadoff for the Tribe for much of the season.
Nolan Jones will be promoted to AA Akron very soon. Assuming he continues to rake in Akron, his bat at that point would be pretty much major league ready. The only thing really holding him back is his glove. He makes a lot of errors at third base. However, he is a pretty good athlete and I’m quite sure he could handle first base or left field if necessary. Although his glove is holding him back I think the Indians will figure out where to play him and then Jones will figure out how to play there. It only took Lonnie Chisanhall a month or two in the minors and he came back playing an excellent right field.
Nolan Jones ticket to the bigs is his bat. Hitting line drives and getting on base are what he does best. I’m sure he will add more power and defense along the way. This is a guy who definitely has a future in the big leagues with the Indians. Sometime toward the middle of next season is most likely. If the season gets away from the Indians in the second half Jones may even get a September call up. Whenever it happens I can’t wait to see what kind of impact he has on the major league lineup.