Phillies may finally have a legitimate lefty starting pitching prospect emerging
Damon Jones has emerged as a legit Phillies pitching prospect
Baseball America is one of the most respected resources in all of baseball for all sorts of information on the game. That is especially so regarding their evaluation and coverage of minor league baseball and top prospects.
In a regular feature, the periodical and website releases a monthly “Dynasty Stock Report” as a research tool for fantasy baseball players who might be looking for emerging prospects.
For their June release, Baseball America had an interesting name pop up in the “Surging” category of that stock report. The named belonged to a Philadelphia Phillies pitcher, left-hander Damon Jones.
Jone is a 24-year-old southpaw (he turns 25 in September) from Idaho who was the Phillies 18th round selection in the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft out of Washington State University.
After signing with the organization, Jones began his professional career that same summer at short-season Williamsport. He then advanced to Low-A Lakewood for his first full season in 2018 and began to excel. That season, Jones went 10-7 with a 3.41 ERA, striking out 123 batters over 113.1 innings across 23 games, 22 of those as starting assignments.
This year, Jones has upped his game. Over 11 starts at High-A Clearwater the lefty went 4-3 with a 1.54 ERA and 1.063 WHIP. He allowed just 38 hits over 58.1 innings, earning a promotion to Double-A Reading. There he has continued to dominate, allowing nine hits over his first 22 innings across four starts.
Jones has greatly improved his command and control as he has risen through the ranks. This season he has fashioned a 119/33 K:BB. He also has allowed just three home runs, and has yielded just 10 total long balls over his now 219+ minor league innings pitched.
“The 6-foot-5 lefthander streamlined his delivery this season…Improved fastball velocity and enhanced feel for his slider enabled the 24-year-old Jones to record a 1.17 ERA in 30.2 innings in June, striking out 44 and walking nine. The biggest improvement had been much sharper control than he had shown in past seasons.”
In his own piece for BA on July 2, Phillies beat writer Matt Gelb quoted Phillies director of player development Rafael Chaves: “Obviously, his stuff was always pretty good. Command was always the question mark. Now he’s throwing the ball not only with authority, but he’s commanding it.”
Given his age and developmental path, it would not be surprising to see Jones surface in Philadelphia by this September, if not sooner. The Phillies pitching woes have been well documented, as has been their inability to develop a left-handed starter. Jones is at least putting himself in the picture for consideration to receive a shot sometime soon.