Nolan Jones had a bad 2021 but can he rebound next season?
The Indians will soon become the Guardians and part of that change will see a new influx of minor leaguers getting called up to the majors. Not a surprise to say that, it happens every year. Yet, one name that many thought they’d see at some point in 2021 was Nolan Jones. Jones was in Triple-A Columbus, playing third base and outfield for the Clippers. During the offseason, he was expected to be called up to the major league roster at some point in 2021.
That never happened and instead, Jones struggled down in Columbus, hitting .238, with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, and an ungodly 122 strikeouts in just 341 at-bats. Jones had nearly as many strikeouts (122) as he did hits (81) and walks (59) combined (140). He was absolutely awful at the plate.
Only Bradley Zimmer and Franmil Reyes had more strikeouts between Triple-A and Major League players.
The Indians shouldn’t give up on Nolan Jones just yet
Yes, Zimmer never panned out and Bobby Bradley looks like he’s going to be more of the same (99 strikeouts in 74 games), so there shouldn’t be a lot of optimism around the hitters in the minors. They’re all struggling save for a handful of guys.
Yet, the reason for hope isn’t the talent themselves, but so much the guys that may be joining them. The Indians let go of their hitting coach, and it seems very likely that by the time Spring Training ends, the minor league hitting coaches may either get help or get replaced as well. There have been shakeups in the minors over the last few years, and at the start of 2022, we should know who’s coming back.
If the Indians are able to get a good hitting coach in there, much like how Carl Willis became synonymous with getting the most out of his pitchers, then the Tribe may be better than ever. The raw potential is there, they just need better coaching. Having that many guys with so many strikeouts is a systematic issue within how they’re being taught and coached.
So that can be corrected.
Jones still has a chance to rebound and lie up to the expectations the organization has for him. It’s too soon to say that he can’t be the next star of the team, after all, Jose Ramirez didn’t have a breakout year until he was 24. Jones is just 23. Jones could easily enter next year as a rookie and roast opposing hitters, but he’s got a lot of work to do to prove he can be that guy.
For the sake of the team’s future, let’s all hope he’s up to the task.