Derek Jones, WSU's career leader in home runs, will officially embark on his professional career with the Colorado Rockies, who made the outfielder their eighth round pick on Tuesday.
Jones -- a 6-foot tall, 205 pound outfielder with a sweet left-handed swing -- was selected in the 13th round of the 2011 draft by the Baltimore Orioles but decided to return for his senior season in an effort to get the Cougars back in the postseason -- and also presumably improve his draft stock.
He certainly succeeded in the latter, and although WSU didn't make it back to the NCAA tournament, none of that can be laid at Jones' feet. He turned in a herculean effort on that front with his best season in Pullman, hitting .335 (up from .275 a year ago and eclipsing his career high of .309 in his "live bat" sophomore season) with 9 home runs. He posted a .438 on-base percentage and .574 slugging percentage, leading to Jones making his first all-conference team.
For Rockies fans wondering what kind of player they're getting -- or for those of you who never had the pleasure of watching Jones play -- he obviously hits for average and has above average power. It's unlikely he develops into a legitimate slugger, but he does hit gap-to-gap. He's also an above-average outfielder with a good arm in right and has above average speed, stealing 11 bases in 13 attempts this season.
The immediate projection is probably backup outfielder at the major league level, but it should be encouraging to fans of both Jones and the Rockies that he took such a big step forward this past year -- it certainly gives the impression that he's not a finished product.
Congratulations to Derek from all of us at CougCenter.