Two-Ways and Jones' K's
by, 01-24-2013 at 11:37 AM (1244 Views)
Two-way players are rarely seen in today’s Major League of Baseball. Though, there have been some incredible examples in our recent and ancient past. I’m talking about a player that can produce at a high level on both ends of the spectrum, and can be considered a legitimate pitcher and hitter in the Major Leagues.
The most revered legend of the game broke into the majors as a left-handed pitcher. His rookie stats were impressive with 18 wins and a 2.44 ERA. But he followed it up with two of the best seasons in the history of pitching a baseball. His two-year stretch of pitching dominance boasted a 1.88 ERA with 47 wins. Of course, I am writing about Babe Ruth.
1918 was the year Babe got more than 300 at-bats for the first time. In 1919, he introduced the “power-hitter stat line” to the universe while playing baseball as a full-time outfielder and spot-starter for the BoSox. The Babe’s pitching days had run their course after he hit 29 bombs and was sold to the Yanks. He made four starts for the Yanks over the final 15 years of his career.
Many other hitter-pitcher combo guys have come through the Major Leagues since Ruth’s days, but none dominated both arenas in such a fashion. A good list of the best hitting pitchers of all-time is online here. In today’s game, there are rarely opportunities for players to pitch and hit, even in college. This is a good article by Jonathon Mayo that typifies what happens to kids today. Eventually, someone else decides what position suits them best for the next level. It's basically a dying novelty at the highest levels.
The Twins recently drafted a two-way college player in Zachary Jones. It is clear that Zach will be a pitcher moving forward. Perhaps, the reason he was available to draft in the 4th round last year was because he was a two-way player projected to simply be a bullpen pitcher in the pros.
While I was a college baseball player, I had one season in which I was told I would not be a hitter or a catcher as I was accustomed to. This season, I would be a pitcher-only. I was frustrated at first, because I loved to hit. But, ultimately, the extra time spent working on the finer points of pitching really helped my total knowledge of the game. It also gave me a humble perspective, because I was filling a lesser role than full-time catcher.
Zachary will certainly become better as he devotes more time to becoming a pitcher-only, and he did this his junior year at San José State University. So, he has at least one year of pitcher-only experience. We are talking about some scary at-bats for opposing hitters if he keeps getting better. Jones struck out everyone and their brother last year in his professional debut at E-ton and Beloit. There are rumors he could become a starter someday with his intelligent make-up.
It is fun to imagine Jones as a normal-sized flamethrower in the Minnesota rotation (ditto for JO Berrios). But he may never become a high-innings guy, and his fastball could probably touch 100 if he is allowed to be a one-inning reliever. One thing is certain, Zachary’s future looks bright with all those K’s and a wealth of untapped potential. Hopefully, the more hitters he K's, the less he will want to be a hitter himself.
The Twins have a very intriguing prospect here.