Sunday Notes: Jared Jones Has Gone From Raw to Remarkable

Jared Jones had made just one big-league appearance when my colleague Ben Clemens wrote on April 2 that we should all get irresponsibly excited about the rookie right-hander. Little has happened to change that opinion. When Jones takes the mound this afternoon for the sixth time in a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform, he will do so with a 2.79 ERA, a 3.19 FIP, and 34.8% strikeout rate. Moreover, his fastball has averaged 97.3 mph, occasionally reaching triple digits.

Following his second start, I caught up to the flame-throwing 22-year-old at PNC Park to get a first-hand account of his arsenal and development path. Among the things I learned is that he was especially raw when the Pirates drafted him 44th-overall in 2020 out of La Mirada (CA) High School.

“I didn’t know how to pitch when I signed,” Jones told me. “I just threw fastballs, and throwing hard in high school is a lot different than throwing hard in pro ball. Guys in pro ball can hit the hard fastball, especially if you don’t have anything else.”

Jones did have secondary pitches prior to getting drafted, originally a curveball “that wasn’t very good,” and then a slider that went from “just okay” as a young prep to “pretty good” by the time he’d graduated. Even so, he was admittedly more thrower than pitcher — someone whose elite arm strength allowed him to “just throw fastballs by guys.”

Velocity came naturally to the now-6-foot-1, 180-pound righty. It also came early. “I was in my sophomore year of high school when I hit 97 [mph] for the first time,” explained Jones. “I’ve been a hard thrower for a long time.”

His understanding of pitching metrics is another story.

“To be completely honest, I don’t know what my pitches did in high school,” said Jones, who currently relies heavily on his heater-slider combo, mixing in the occasional curveball or changeup. “I just threw them. I didn’t know what vertical break or horizontal break was until my first year of pro ball. They showed me things like [TrackMan data] and I had no idea what it was until I started asking questions. I had no idea what the analytics were, or what they meant.

“I don’t think too much about them now,” added Jones. “I’m a competitor when I’m out there pitching, I don’t really think, ‘Is my fastball moving this way? Is my slider doing that?’ I just go out there and compete. That’s just who I am. I’m a fiery competitor.”

Make that a fiery competitor continuing to enjoy success at the big-league level. With each and every start, the level of excitement Jones elicits is becoming less and less irresponsible.



Victor Martinez went 22 for 52 against Chris Sale.

Vic Power went 14 for 29 against Bob Grim.

Vic Wertz went 7 for 11 against Satchel Paige.

Vic Davalillo went 9 for 11 against Bennie Daniels.

Vic Roznovsky went 6 for 9 against Mel Stottlemyre.


Jerry Narron wasn’t afraid of going against the grain when he managed the Cincinnati Reds from 2005-2007. Now a coach for the Los Angeles Angels, the 68-year-old former big-league backstop — much to the consternation of the day’s talk-radio wags — would occasionally put a basher in a table-setter spot in the batting order. OBP was the method behind the madness.

“When I started managing, in the minors in 1989, I tried to make out my batting order by on-base percentage,” explained Narron. “Then, when I managed the Reds, I’d sometimes put Adam Dunn in the two-hole. Everybody said, ‘What in the world are you doing, putting Adam Dunn in the two hole?’ I’d say, ‘Well, he’s a power guy and he’s going to get on base for us.’ With Dunn, I knew that it was going to be a base on balls, a strikeout, or a home run. I caught some heat on the Cincinnati talk shows, but it worked out okay.”

Dunn logged a team-best OBP in the three-year span while slashing .248/.379/.527 with 120 home runs and a 129 wRC+. His 327 walks were second-most in the majors during that span, while his 527 strikeouts led all players, That was overall. When batting second in the order, which he did 188 times, Dunn’s on-base percentage was a lofty .441.

Dan O’Brien was Cincinnati’s GM in 2005, and Wayne Krivsky held the role in 2006-2007. As for the front office member whose input helped prompt the atypical move, his name might come as a surprise.

“The guy I talked to about doing it was doing some analytics stuff and video scouting for us at the time,” explained Narron. “It was [current Reds GM] Nick Krall. I loved talking with Nick before he was the big dog. I mean, there was the manager getting some information from one of the lowest guys on the totem pole. I think the talk shows probably would have died if I told them who I was getting information from.”


A quiz:

Fergie Jenkins has the most pitcher WAR (53.6) in Chicago Cubs franchise history. Which underrated former Cub has the second-most pitcher WAR in franchise history?

The answer can be found below.



The Atlantic League season got underway on Thursday, and the results included a combined no-hitter. Parker Markel and a pair of relievers combined to allow just one baserunner — that on a walk — as the Hagerstown Flying Boxcars topped the York Revolution 4-0.

SABR’s Oral History Committee will be hosting a live Zoom interview with Dave Righetti on Thursday May 9 at 8pm EST. More information can be found here.


The answer to the quiz is Rick Reuschel, who was worth 47.0 WAR pitching for the Cubs from 1972-1981, and again in 1983-1984. All told, the non-Hall of Fame right-hander amassed 68.2 WAR over his 19 seasons.


Left on the cutting-room floor from my recently-published interview with Chicago Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks was his answer to this question: When in your career do you feel you were at your best?

“I felt like I was at the top of my game in 2016,” Hendricks told me. “My stuff was playing the best — how it was grading out — and my command was very good. From day one of that season it seemed like I was able to put every pitch where I wanted it. I also feel that I was able to read swings really well. It was just a special year. We played such unbelievable defense, which is a huge part of the game for me. Everything kind of came together, both for me and the team.”

Hendricks went 16-8 with an NL-best 2.16 ERA over 190 regular-season innings in 2016. He subsequently started Game 7 of the World Series and allowed two runs, one of them earned, in four-and-two thirds innings in a contest the Cubs went on to win 8-7 in 10 innings.



James Naile is 4-0 with a 1.47 ERA over six starts with the KBO’s Kia Tigers. The 31-year-old former St. Louis Cardinals right-hander has fanned 38 batters and issued three free passes in 36-and-two-thirds innings.

Seong Ho Cheon is slashing .357/.396/.450 in 139 plate appearances with the KT Wiz. The 26-year-old second baseman leads the KBO in hits (46) and triples (3).

Yuki Yanagita is slashing .342/.495/.456 in 105 plate appearances for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. The 35-year-old outfielder is a nine-time All-Star who has hit .313/.410/.539 over 13-plus NPB seasons.

Tatsuya Imai is 2-0 with a 0.77 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 35 innings for NPB’s Seibu Lions. The 25-year-old right-hander went 10-5 with a 2.30 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 133 innings a year ago.

Bo Takahashi recorded his first NPB win on Thursday as Seibu beat the Orix Buffaloes 3-1. The 27-year-old right-hander from Presidente Prudente, Brazil pitched in the Arizona Diamondbacks system from 2014-2019 and in the Cincinnati Reds system in 2021.


Which third baseman is/was better, José Ramírez or Scott Rolen? I asked that question in a Twitter poll a few days ago, and the results suggest that Ramírez isn’t nearly as underrated as he once was. Cleveland’s current hot-corner stalwart garnered 55% of the votes cast, while the Hall of Fame received 45%.

Recency bias, or is Ramírez truly worthy of his slight polling advantage? Let’s look at some numbers, factoring in age. Ramírez turned 31 in mid-September last year, and Rolen has an early-April birthday, so we’ll compare them through their age-30 seasons.

SR: 1,300 hits, 231 HRs, 2,359 TB, 92 SB, 129 wRC+, 48.9 WAR.
JR: 1,327 hits, 216 HRs, 2,376 TB, 202 SB, 128 wRC+, 45.2 WAR.

From age 31 to to the end of his career, Rolen hit 85 home runs and logged a 110 wRC+ and 21 WAR. What Ramírez goes on to do is obviously unknown, so how they’ll stack up in terms of career numbers is anyone’s guess. As for the through-age-30 comparison, Rolen has the edge — albeit a narrow one.


A random obscure former player snapshot:

Joe Kmak smacked a single off of Mark Langston in his first MLB plate appearance, which came on April 6, 1993 as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers. On August 27, 1995, Kmak singled against Greg Maddux while playing in his penultimate big-league game with the Chicago Cubs. In between, there were just 35 base knocks for the right-handed-hitting catcher from Napa, California. His lone home run came at Wrigley Field on July 29, 1995, this in a game where the Cubs walked off the Philadelphia Phillies 8-7 on a three-run homer by Shawon Dunston that followed a two-out error and a hit by pitch.



Chandler Simpson has stolen 18 bases in 22 attempts while slashing .383/.493/.383 over 16 games for the High-A Bowling Green Hot Rods. The 23-year-old outfielder in the Tampa Bay Rays organization pilfered 94 bags in the low minors last year.

Creed Willems is slashing .300/.344/.667 with six home runs in 64 plate appearances for the High-A Aberdeen IronBirds. The 21-year-old catcher in the Baltimore Orioles organization has a 13.0% ground ball rate, the lowest among minor-league hitters.

Tayden Hall is slashing .377/.500/.492 with five doubles and a triple in 76 plate appearances for the Low-A Carolina Mudcats. The 21-year-old first baseman in the Milwaukee Brewers organization batted .296 for the Australian Baseball League’s Brisbane Bandits this past winter.

Drew Thorpe is 4-0 with a 0.75 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 24 innings for the Double-A Birmingham Barons. The 23-year-old right-hander was acquired by the Chicago White Sox from the San Diego Padres this past winter as part of the five-player Dylan Cease deal.

Owen Murphy is 3-1 with a 1.13 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 24 innings for the High-A Rome Emperors. The 20-year-old right-hander was drafted 20th overall in 2022 by the Atlanta Braves out of Illinois’s Riverside-Brookfield High School.

Emmett Olson has logged 19 strikeouts, and allowed just eight hits, over 16 scoreless innings for the Low-A Jupiter Hammerheads. The 21-year-old southpaw was drafted out of the University of Nebraska by the Miami Marlins last year in the fourth round.


To say that Shota Imanaga’s transition from NPB to MLB has gone smoothly would be an understatement. In five starts for the Chicago Cubs, the 30-year-old former Yokohama BayStars southpaw is 4-0 with a 0.98 ERA and a 2.36 FIP over 27-and-two-thirds innings. Moreover, he has 28 strikeouts to go with just three walks and 19 hits allowed.

Prior to his pitching at Fenway Park on Friday, a reporter asked Cubs manager Craig Counsell how Imanaga has been able to make the transition as seamlessly as he has.

“That’s a good question; I don’t know if I have enough experience with other pitchers and how they transitioned,” replied Counsell. “But one of Shota’s best traits is that he’s very curious, and he’s very open. I think he takes in information very well. He watches very well. That leads to someone who is very good at making adjustments. When you combine that with [his] being a good pitcher — he’s very good at what he does — there are probably less adjustments that he’s had to make so far that maybe we would have anticipated. His stuff is playing really well with the hitters right now. As he keeps facing hitters, I’m sure those adjustments will come. But he’s doing a really good job with the things that he’s good at.”

What are the things that Imanaga is good at? I asked that question to Cubs broadcaster, and former big-league left-hander, Jim Deshaies.

“He’s got a riding fastball that he throws up in the zone, that major league hitters just haven’t been able to get on top of, and also have a tendency to chase,” Deshaies told me on Saturday. “He plays that north-south game really well: four-seamers up, split-fingers down. He’ll sprinkle in an occasional breaking ball — curveballs to righties that are a more a get-ahead pitch — and there’s a pretty good slider as well, which he’ll throw to lefties. I don’t know if the fact that he’s 5-10 creates a different look to hitters, but I think there’s some deception there. And there is life on that fastball, because it’s not 95 [mph], it’s 92. He also doesn’t walk people. He has great command. That was his reputation when he came here from Japan, and that’s what we’ve see here, in spring training and now through five major-league starts.”

A smooth transition indeed.



The Chicago White Sox came into this weekend’s series against Tampa Bay not having played against an AL East or AL West opponent. They were 2-15 against the AL Central and 1-7 against NL teams.

The Milwaukee Brewers are 7-1 in one-run games and 2-0 in extra-inning games. The Houston Astros are 0-7 in one-run games and 0-3 in extra-inning games.

The Astros are the only team without a triple this season. The Chicago Cubs have hit eight triples, the most in the majors.

Seattle’s Luis Urias has five hits — three doubles, two home runs, and no singles. Washington’s Joey Gallo has nine hits — five doubles, three home runs, and one single.

Atlanta’s Marcell Ozuna went into last night with a .344 batting average and an NL-best 31 RBIs. Kansas City’s Salvador Perez went into last night with a .344 batting average and an AL-best 25 RBIs.

San Francisco’s Logan Webb has allowed three runs and issued three walks over 29 innings in his last four starts.

Detroit’s Reese Olson is 0-4 with a 3.18 ERA and a 2.79 FIP.



A former minor-league umpire has sued MLB, claiming that he was harassed by a female ump, and fired for being a bisexual man. Ronald Blum has the story at AP News.’s Anthony Castrovince wrote about how the median age of MLB ticket buyers has dropped by several years in recent seasons.

The Athletic’s Tyler Kepner addressed the pitcher win criteria — a subject I opined on here at Sunday Notes two weeks ago — as part of his excellent “Sliders” column (subscription required).

San Francisco Giants prospect Reggie Crawford misses hitting baseballs over fences. John O’Connor wrote about the two-way-player-turned-pitcher-only for The Richmond Times-Dispatch.’s Rob Terranova profiled St. Louis Cardinals prospect Sem Robberse, a 22-year-old native of Zeist, Netherlands who is excelling on the mound with the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds.



Jackson Holliday, whom the Orioles demoted to Triple-A on Friday, started his MLB career 2-for-34. Willie Mays, who was 19 days removed from his 20th birthday when he debuted with the New York Giants in 1951, started out his MLB career 1-for-26. Holliday was 20 years and 144 days when he debuted.

Pete Rose hit 30 triples for the Florida State League’s Tampa Tarpons in 1961. Three other players tied for second-most in the circuit with a dozen apiece.

Cleveland Indians third baseman Al Rosen slashed .336/.422/.613 with 43 home runs, 145 RBIs, and a 178 wRC+ in his 1953 AL MVP season. He had 9.1 WAR.

St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Marty Marion slashed .267/.324/.382 with six home runs, 63 RBIs, and a 92 wRC+ in his 1944 NL MVP season. He had 4.6 WAR.

Babe Ruth played in 10 World Series, seven with the Yankees and three with the Red Sox. New York won four titles with Ruth on the roster, Boston won three.

The Oakland Athletics beat the Detroit Tigers 6-3 on today’s date in 1996, with round-trippers accounting for all nine runs. The teams combined to go deep seven times, with Scott Brosius hitting two of Oakland’s five home runs in the Sunday matinee at Tiger Stadium. Greg Gohr surrendered four of the gophers.

Dick Sipek made his MLB debut for the Cincinnati Reds on today’s date in 1945, walking as a pinch-hitter in a 1-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. An outfielder who appeared in 82 games and batted .244 in his lone big-league season, Sipek attended the Illinois School for the Deaf, where he was mentored by Luther Taylor, who had attended the Kansas School for the Deaf before pitching for the New York Giants (and briefly the Cleveland Blues) from 1900-1908.

Bock Baker made the first of his two big-league appearances on today’s date in 1901 and allowed 23 hits and 13 runs in eight innings as the Cleveland Blues lost to the Chicago White Sox 13-1. The southpaw, who was known as Smiling Bock, subsequently allowed six hits and 11 runs in six innings while pitching for the Philadelphia Athletics in a 14-5 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.

Players born on today’s date include Cuddles Marshall, who on May 28, 1946 was New York’s starting pitcher in the first night game ever played at Yankee Stadium. Marshall’s modest career saw him go 7-7 with a 5.98 ERA over 185 innings from 1946-1950.

Also born on today’s date was Fred Schemanske, who finished his brief and statistically-unique career with a 1.000 batting average and a 27.00 ERA. Just 20 years old when he played in two games for the Washington Senators in 1923, Schemanske allowed three runs in his lone inning on the mound, and went 2-for-2 with a walk in three plate appearances.

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