The San Francisco Giants agreed to terms with third baseman Ryder Jones on Tuesday, making him the team’s first pick from last Thursday’s draft to sign. Jones, the 64th overall pick, is the first high school player committed to Stanford that has signed with the team that drafted him since Jack McGeary, a Washington Nationals sixth-rounder in 2007. Seeing as the Giants selected Jones well ahead of where he was projected to be picked by draft experts and then signed him so quickly, it seems that they have big plans for him.
Jones is seen as a player who lacks bat speed, but could be an above-average power hitter in the future. These qualities indicate that Jones will have to spend a reasonable time developing in the minor leagues before he arrives in San Francisco. It would be surprising if he does not start his professional career with the rookie-level AZL Giants. If all goes according to plan, Jones will likely play for the Low-A Augusta GreenJackets next season, and move up one level per season, putting him on track to join the Giants in 2017 at the earliest.
This creates a potential obstacle in Jones’ ability to be a major league starter. Pablo Sandoval is a free agent following the 2014 season, and as Sandoval continues to be hampered by injuries and weight concerns, the possibility that he re-signs with the Giants decreases by the day. At the moment, the likely succession plan for Sandoval would be to install former first-rounder Joe Panik at second in 2015 and move Marco Scutaro to third for the final year of his contract.
If Scutaro is not re-signed, the team could install another veteran there or use prospect Adam Duvall, who has certainly shown flashes of being able to succeed. The 24-year-old, currently at AA Richmond, hit 30 home runs for the High-A San Jose Giants last season and also hit two homers in 17 at-bats for the Giants this spring. If Duvall lives up to this potential at the big-league level, he may be blocking third base for younger prospects such as Jones and first-rounder Christian Arroyo, who could move to the hot corner if Brandon Crawford continues to produce at short and Panik pans out at second.
Ultimately, everything depends on Jones’ ability to develop in the Giants’ system, but it will be interesting to see how the Giants sort out the situation when the time comes.