He is a natural third baseman, but as we all know that position is held down by Jose Ramirez for the foreseeable future.
So where will Jones play with the Indians?
It appears the team is considering all options out in Goodyear during Spring Training.
Jones said so himself.
Nolan Jones said he's got "too many" gloves at camp. #Indians have him working at third base, first and the outfield.
— Tom Withers (@twithersAP) February 24, 2021
This is something to keep in mind when projecting how the roster will shake out in 2021.
Figuring Out a Spot for the Top Prospect
Jones getting time at third base is the obvious spot for him because that is where he plays in the minors.
But he is blocked at that spot and also at shortstop, the position he played in high school, by Andres Gimenez.
That makes first base and outfield his quickest options to playing time in Cleveland.
The current first base position is basically being held down by outfielders.
That would give him a quicker path to the majors.
Top career wRC+ by a third base prospect this past decade with at least 1,000 PA's in MiLB.
1) Valdimir Guerrero Jr. 164
2) Nick Senzel 158
3) Joey Gallo 157
4) Miguel Sano 156
5) Nolan Jones 152 pic.twitter.com/TyuwDfSkoB
— Indians Prospective (@indiansPro) September 10, 2020
The same is basically true in the outfield because he remains the team’s top prospect.
Jones is not going to be held back by anyone in the outfield or at first if he looks like a better option.
The one caveat to that is he will likely still have to wait well past Opening Day to get called up because the team is going to want to essentially manipulate his service time.
A fair way to disguise that in 2021 is to say they want him to get minor league reps after the entire 2020 season was cancelled.
That may not be fair, but it is just the reality of the situation.
On the Right Path
This is a smart move by the Indians to have Jones get reps all over the diamond.
Think of someone like Bryce Harper who came up as a catcher and switched to outfield.
He was a natural athlete who made the switch easily and the most important thing was getting his bat in the lineup.
Jones could also start as an outfielder and eventually transition to third base if Ramirez leaves or if they shift him back over to second base in the future.
Giving him these reps in Spring Training also allows the Indians to see what position outside of third base is his strongest.
The goal should always be to get top prospects to the majors in a quick manner and at least the organization is committed to making sure that happens.
Only having him play third base would prove the opposite is true.
Just don’t expect Jones to be in the lineup on Opening Day.
He is going to get more time to train and should be up at some point in the summer if he isn’t showing any major regression.