Cleveland Guardians: It could soon be time to promote Nolan Jones
With the Cleveland Guardians dealing with injuries and struggling infielders, is it time for them to call up a former top prospect?
At one point this season, it seemed impossible to find a major-league roster spot for Cleveland Guardians prospect Nolan Jones.
But with the Guardians experiencing a rash of injuries and a few key players struggling at the major-league level, now would be the perfect time for Cleveland to promote Jones and potentially inject an offensive spark while seeing what the team has in its former top prospect.
Jones, 24, has gotten off to a sizzling start in 2022, his Triple-A season starting late due to his recovery from surgery on his left ankle. In his first 104 plate appearances with the Clippers, Jones is slashing .314/.423/.512 with three home runs, six doubles, 25 RBIs and four stolen bases.
Though it’s a fairly small sample size this season, it appears there isn’t much left for Jones to prove at the minor-league level.
Where Does Nolan Jones Fit With the Cleveland Guardians?
As the Guardians deal with injuries and struggling players at key positions, it’s not hard to see how Jones could give the team a lift. Josh Naylor, the team’s first baseman on most days, is currently dealing with back spasms and is of course still working himself back from his own gruesome injury from last season.
But more plausibly for Jones, the struggles of guys like Owen Miller and Ernie Clement present an interesting opportunity. As the utility man, Clement has certainly struggled offensively, hitting just .186 in 124 plate appearances, with no home runs and just five RBIs. Miller, on the other hand, got off to a scorching start to the season, but is hitting just .186 since June 1 and has seen his wRC+ drop to an 86 for the year.
The potentially easy solution here would be to designate Clement for assignment and allow Miller to be more of that utility player, considering his ability to play first base, second, and even third base. It’s become clear that Clement just doesn’t have much, if any, of a long-term future with the team, and Miller has displayed more than enough offensive prowess to suggest he could work his way out of his slump and once again be a productive member of the lineup.
Jones most often plays third base (which is occupied by a certain player named José Ramírez, who could potentially be more hampered by a sore thumb than he might be letting on), but has also begun playing in the outfield while dabbling at first base. Clearly, the organization is trying to find a way to make him fit on the roster.
Speaking of making him fit, Jones is already on the 40-man roster, so bringing him up won’t require the logistical nightmare calling up a prospect sometimes entails.
What About Tyler Freeman?
Freeman, 23 and also on the 40-man roster, is another top prospect knocking on the door to the majors. He’s put together his own solid start to the season following recovery from a surgery (for Freeman, it was his left shoulder), hitting .262/.359/.349 with four home runs, seven doubles and 34 RBIs. Freeman doesn’t have much power to speak of at all, which gives Jones a potential leg up in the power-depleted Guardians lineup.
Cleveland is likely trying to move both players along slowly because of their recoveries, but the time may soon be coming to make a decision on how best to improve the major-league lineup as the Guardians stay in contention. Of course, the trade deadline is looming as well, and both Jones and Freeman could certainly be potential trade chips.
But if the Guardians had to improve the major-league team right this second and provide a potential boost to the lineup, Jones should be the choice. He was at one point the organization’s top prospect, and he still has the skills that could remind everyone why that was the case.