JaCoby Mylon Jones
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 202 lb.
- School Louisiana State University
- High School Richton High School
- Debut August 30, 2016
Infielder JaCoby Jones made his big league debut in 2016.
Jones hit .482 with 27 steals as a high school freshman and was All-State. In 2008, he hit .520 with 33 swipes, then .517 with 30 steals as a junior, winning All-State both times. He was an Aflac All-American in 2009. In 2010, he hit .503 and stole 42 bases. He set the Mississippi state record for career hits by a high school player. Louisville Slugger named him the Mississippi Player of the Year for 2010. In the 2010 amateur draft, he had been a 19th-round selection by the Houston Astros out of high school, but decided to go to college instead.
As a college freshman, he hit .338/.395/.467 as the second baseman for LSU and was named Freshman All-American. He had a four-hit game, something no LSU freshman had done since Micah Gibbs in 2008. In 2012, the sophomore slumped to .253/.308/.363. His junior year, he hit .294/.390/.448 with 42 runs in 59 games. Despite not making the Southeastern Conference leaderboards, his athleticism drew the interest of scouts. He was a 3rd round pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2013 amateur draft; Jerome Cochran was the scout. He was the 87th overall pick and the 4th Pirates draftee (first collegian), following Austin Meadows, Reese McGuire and Blake Taylor.
JaCoby began his professional career with the Jamestown Jammers of the New York-Penn League in 2013 where he hit .311 in 15 games before a right knee injury ended his season. In 2014, he was the starting shortstop for the West Virginia Power of the South Atlantic League and hit .288/.347/.503 in 117 games, slugging 21 doubles and 23 homers, scoring 72 runs, stealing 17 bags and driving in 70, excellent power production for a middle infielder. He hit three grand slams. One less impressive stat was his 132 strikeouts against 33 walks. He was second in the SAL in home runs (two behind Travis Demeritte), fourth in slugging (between Frank Schwindel and Ryan McMahon) and fifth in total bases (224). Among Pirates farmhands, he led in home runs (two more than Stetson Allie) and was second in RBI (one behind Edwin Espinal). He nearly set the Power home run record; Stephen Chapman had hit 24 in 2007. Jones was named to the SAL All-Star team at SS.
He began 2015 with the Bradenton Marauders of the Florida State League where he hit .253/.313/.396 in 93 games, with 10 homers and 58 RBIs. He had just been promoted to the AA Altoona Curve when on July 30th he was traded to the Detroit Tigers in return for major league closer Joakim Soria (who would be used as a set-up man by the Pirates in the plan). The Tigers left him in the Eastern League, simply sliding him over to the Erie SeaWolves. Pittsburgh apparently felt they had enough shortstop depth in the system with 2014 first-rounder Cole Tucker and 2015 first-rounder Kevin Newman. He hit .250/.331/.463 in 37 games for Erie, scoring 37 runs and stealing 10 bases in 13 tries, but fanning in 52 of 136 AB. Assigned to the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League, he hit .280/.333/.400 in 12 contests, striking out 17 times in 50 AB.
Jones moved up the ranks in 2016, from Erie (.312/.393/.597, 20 RBI in 20 G) to the Toledo Mud Hens (.243/.309/.356 in 79 G) to the majors, called up when Casey McGehee was sent down. In his MLB debut, he started at third base and hit 8th facing the Chicago White Sox on August 30th. He grounded out against Anthony Ranaudo in his first trip to the plate, then popped up in the 5th. With the game tied 3-3 in the 6th, he doubled off Matt Albers to score Jarrod Saltalamacchia with the go-ahead run on his first big league hit. He came home on a single by Ian Kinsler. With Detroit well ahead, 7-4, in the 8th, he singled off Jacob Turner to bring in Justin Upton with the game's last run, topping a fine debut.
In 2017, he began the year as the Tigers' starting centerfielder, as an injury to J.D. Martinez had opened the door for some younger players in the team's outfield. He was hitting only .150 after 16 games but with good defense when on April 22nd, he was hit in the face by a fastball thrown by Justin Haley of the Minnesota Twins. He was immediately taken to hospital and went on the disabled list with facial lacerations.