Damon Jones is the Phuture Phillies’ Readers’ #18 Pick.
Damon Jones was born in Twin Falls, Idaho. His parents are Todd and Nancy Jones and he has two younger brothers, Landon and Houston. His father played football at Idaho State. His mother played basketball at Idaho State and was inducted into the school’s sports hall of fame. She is the vice-principal and girl’s basketball coach at Twin Falls High School. Her father (Damon’s grandfather) is Darrall Imhoff who played for the Sixers (’67 All-Star) for three of his 12-year NBA career. Imhoff was on the Cal team that beat Jerry West’s Mountaineers by one point in the 1959 NCAA championship game. He was an All-American in 1960. He roomed with West when they were teammates on the Lakers. West is Nancy Imhoff Jones’ godfather.
2011-2013: Damon Jones attended Twin Falls High School. He was a three-year letterman in baseball, basketball, and football. He helped his high school baseball team win the 4A state title as a sophomore and as a senior was named All-Great Basin Conference first-team as a pitcher and first baseman.
2014-2015: Jones attended the College of Southern Idaho and was red-shirted as a freshman. The next year, as a redshirt freshman, he made 16 appearances (one start), went 0-2 with a 4.44 ERA, struck out 20 and walked 14 batters in 26 innings, and held opposing hitters to a .224 batting average.
2016: Jones transferred to Washington State and appeared in 17 games (9 starts) as a redshirt sophomore. He went 2-2 with a 5.11 ERA, 27 strikeouts and 22 walks in 44 innings. He was stronger in PAC-12 play – 10 appearances (5 starts), went 2-0 with a 2.96 ERA, and held hitters to a .176 batting average.
2017: As a redshirt junior, Jones made 16 appearances (13 starts). He went 3-3 with a 4.72 ERA and struck out 41 and walked 35 batters in 68.2 innings. In his final eight PAC-12 appearances, Jones posted a 1.12 ERA with 16 strikeouts and four earned runs in 32.1 innings. He led the PAC-12 with 6 pickoffs.
Jones’ WSU career numbers (over 2 seasons) were 33 games, 22 starts, 5-5 record, 4.87 ERA, 68 strikeouts, 57 walks in 112.2 innings.
Jones was drafted by the Phillies in the 18th round of the 2017 Amateur Draft.
2017: Jones made his professional debut with Low-A Williamsport. In 13 relief appearances, he posted a 2-3 record with a 4.85 ERA. He had 3 saves in 3 save opportunities. In 26.0 innings, he walked 20 and struck out 38 batters.
2018: Jones was converted to a starter with Class-A Lakewood. He made 22 starts among his 23 appearances. He posted a 10-7 record with a 3.41 ERA. In 113.1 innings, he walked 50 and struck out 123 batters.
2019: Jones shot up through 3 levels. He started at High-A Clearwater where he went 4-3 with a 1.54 ERA in 11 starts. In 58.1 innings, he walked 24 and struck out 88 batters.
Jones made a short stop at Double-A Reading and posted a 1-0 record with a 0.82 ERA in 4 starts. In 22.0 innings, he walked 9 and struck out 31 batters.
Jones arrived at Triple-A Lehigh Valley and went 0-1 with a 6.62 ERA in 8 starts. In 34.0 innings, he walked 26 and struck out 33 batters.
2020: pandemic – Jones was an NRI to spring training. He was later assigned to the Alternate Training Site on July 18th. He spent the season in Allentown.
2021: Jones returned to Triple-A. As a reliever, he appeared in 34 games. he posted a 1-5 record and a 5.44 ERA. In 41.1 innings, he walked 36 and struck out 57 batters.
Jones was recalled and optioned 4 times during the season. He finally made his MLB debut (and only MLB appearance) on August 10th against the Dodgers. He pitched 0.1 innings and posted a 0.00 ERA. However, he gave up a hit and walked 2 batters. Mauricio Llovera relieved and stranded all 3 baserunners. Jones was optioned for the third time on the 11th.
Prospects Live prepared a pre-season scouting report on Jones.
Physical Description: Big frame, long and strong. Broad, filled out shoulders and wide back; long femurs with thick thighs and slightly pronounced butt. Some room for projection, but not much; mostly in the upper torso and legs.
Mechanics: Stretch-only operation. Lead leg offset to first base side pulling the torso closed to home plate. Crossfire action. Leg lift just above the belt. Easy, moderately low effort delivery with 3/4 arm slot and long arm action that drops down behind his butt and hides the ball. Low finish. Nearly identical with runners on. Gets average separation, arm generally on time. Whippy arm, above-average arm speed.
Fastball: 91-93, t94; Some ride and a little run to it. Can run it by hitters anywhere in or out of the zone; looks like it jumps on guys. Poor command, rarely hitting his spots and often missing on the other side of the plate. Tough for hitters to square up, even over the heart, but will get away with fewer mistakes against elite competition. Poor command makes it play down. Grade: 50
Curveball: 80; more vertical than the slider, 1-7 shape. Rarely used, appears to lack confidence. Same velocity band as the slider and is often slurvy and difficult to discern which is which. Not really an effective offering. Needs to be reworked to get vertical more consistently and take some velo off — or scrapped entirely. Grade: 40
Slider: 81-83; Good, sharp sweep with a little depth to it. Tunnels very well with the fastball because of the angle he creates working so far to the first base side. Whips through the zone when it’s on. Buries to the back foot well against righties. Hitters will chase it off the plate for whiffs and don’t square it up often. Mediocre command of it and has a tendency to leave it over the middle or bury it too far gloveside. Grade: 55
Changeup: 87-88; more fade than tumble. Used sparingly, limited feel, doesn’t know where it’s going. Misses high too often. More of a show me pitch than anything right now. Grade: 40
Control and Command: Wild thrower, rarely hits the target, even with fastballs, and sometimes loses the release completely and can’t find the zone with anything. Can go from dominating to miserable between innings. Falls behind frequently and has to come over the heart. Issues locating breaking balls, uncorks uncompetitive ones more than you want. Yanks low to the gloveside with everything in the arsenal and hits batters somewhat frequently. Control: 30 | Command: 30
Overall: Four pitch lefty with a deceptively good fastball and awful command. Too unreliable to start as he can go from dominating to unable to find the plate from one inning to the next. The fastball/slider combo is good enough to work in relief and he can nix the curveball and change which he doesn’t use for more than a change of pace anyway. The command is so bad it may limit him to a low leverage role, but the stuff is good enough to peak at a high leverage role – especially if the velo ticks up in the pen.
Role: 40 – Long Reliever or Low Leverage
The report above was prepared before the 2021 season. It seems accurate. Jones pitched well in 2019 at High-A and Double-A. He struggled at Triple-A in 2021. However, I’ve heard that he improved one of his secondaries and the control/command of his fastball. This would be important for Jones as this could be his watershed year. It would also greatly benefit the Phillies to have a reliable, in-house, mid-level reliever in the bullpen.