Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones have been mainstays in the Pittsburgh Pirates‘ lineup for five years now, but each player took a completely different path to reach the status of every day player.
Jones reached 100 home runs for his career last week, and McCutchen accomplished it on Tuesday night. The difference between Jones and McCutchen is that one of these players had to fight for a roster spot five years ago, while the other was a star player that was drafted in the first round out of high school.
Jones was drafted in round 14 in the 1999 Amateur Draft by the Atlanta Braves, but didn’t make his debut until May 15, 2007 with the Minnesota Twins at age 25. Jones only got 84 plate appearances in the MLB before being signed by the Pirates prior to the 2009 season.
The Pirates basically picked up Jones off the scrap-heap; he was a minor league free agent that no one else would have signed if not for the Pirates. Jones would have 299 plate appearances with the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate before being promoted to the majors. He would hit .293/.372/.567 in his rookie season with 21 home runs in just 82 games. Four years later, Jones has 100 home runs.
McCutchen was a first-round draft pick, and he was drafted eleventh overall out of high school in the 2005 Amateur Draft by the Pirates. He would debut on June 4, 2009 as a 22-year-old rookie. He breezed through the minor leagues and has been a superstar ever since. Thanks to a dynamic combination of speed and power, McCutchen is thought of as a top-five player in baseball. Despite a relatively small frame, McCutchen has immense power in him.
Much like Jones, it took him nearly five seasons to reach 100 home runs. Unlike Jones, he was expected to be a great player. Jones had to fight and struggle to even get noticed enough to be offered an opportunity to do what he is doing with the Pirates. It’s certainly interesting to look back at how opposite the career paths have been for Jones and McCutchen. Nevertheless, having both of them now is all that matters for Pittsburgh.