What makes Jared Jones special? His heater and unique secondary pitches

Photo: Alyson Boyer Rode

Jared Jones’ slider seems a bit slow for someone who throws fastballs in the upper-90s.

The No. 4 player on Perfect Games’ 2020 rankings, Jones regularly hits 97 mph with his four-seam fastball. He even got it to 99 mph in a playoff game for La Mirada (California), according to the LA Times.

But his slider sits at 81-82 mph, according to Prep Baseball’s Nathan Rode.

It’s not a usual slider, though. At the 2019 Perfect Game Showcase, Jones said it acts as more of a slurve.

“I like to throw it as like a slurve,” he said. “I don’t like to think of it as a slider.”

Jones typically aims the pitch in at the right-handed hitter and allows it to dive down on them in an attempt to buckle their knees or put it in the zone. Against lefties, it’ll start outside and cut in backdoor.

With that in mind, he’s not quite content with it. Jones wants to get it up a few more miles per hour so the slurve will sit around 85 mph.

“I just like throwing it like a slow one to keep them off balance, everything else is pretty hard,” Jones said.

Even his changeup is harder than his slider.

This pitch sits around 89-90 mph, according to Rode. In a high school environment when many high-level pitchers fastballs are around that speed, Jones’ pitch remains fast but is still notably slower than his fastball.

But the movement is really makes it effective. Jones said he throws a circle-change with a loose grip.

“It has pretty good movement. I like to twist my wrist, get some movement on it,” he said. “It either tails into righties and dips to lefties.”

Those pitches, coupled with his heater, helped Jones put together a dominant junior year with a 0.77 ERA that included a perfect game and an opponent’s batting average of just .114. He struck out 94 batters in 64 innings pitched.

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Even while developing those pitches as a junior, Jones thinks his biggest improvement over the last season came at the plate as he gained patience and stopped swinging at everything.

“I could read it, I just felt like I needed to hit every pitch,” he said. “I feel like I’m more calm this year.”

With a greater willingness to lay off first pitches — allowing curveballs in particular to pass early in the count — Jones hit .457 with a .547 on-base percentage.

He played a key role in La Mirada getting to the Final Four of the loaded CIF-SS Div. 1 and going 26-7.

As Jones gets more arm strength to speed up his slurve and continues improving at the plate, he’ll begin to look at whether he’ll stick with his USC commitment or go pro in the 2020 MLB Draft.

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