They knew it would be a challenge. They just had no idea Daryl Jones would struggle so mightily with the off-speed pitch. His 81 strikeouts ended up being good enough for second worst in the Northwest League.
Out of 73 games, Jones only spent 13 with his average at .200 or above. The right-handed slugger managed to hit .130 off left-handed pitching.
Jones also led the league in errors at his position as the mental barrage weighed down heavily on the California native.
Whether it was a case of trying to do too much or the product of a kid (he played at the age of 18 throughout the year) in a tough league is in question. The Padres will periodically test players they are high on to see how they respond and this is one of those exams.
Jones is certainly blessed with talent and his offseason will be one of focus and introspection. His status took a hit this year as he could not find the consistency in his swing and had a penchant for swinging at bad pitches. He is, however, still a bright cog in the Padres’ system.
Chastising players so young is always tough. Jones still has all the tools that made him a high draft pick and time is definitely on his side.
It is kind of strange to throw Billy Killian into this mix. It wasn’t so much what he did, although production did contribute slightly, as much as it was the organization seemingly down on the youngster and taking opportunities away at each corner.
For much of the year, his emotions seemed to be toyed with. He would get a brief shot in Eugene before being sent down to Arizona. Then a late stint with the Ems was granted but bore no fruit.
It was an odd year for the catcher in other ways. He did not score his first run until August 4 and ended up with six on the year. His foray into the Northwest League limited him to 14 games and a .189 average.
And even in Arizona his game time was limited. Yet this is a guy they thought highly enough of to take in round three of the 2004 draft – where did his playing time and development go?
Catcher is certainly a deep position within the organization but as a backstop games are needed. You don’t get better catching bullpen sessions. If the team is as high on him as many are led to believe, they need to act like it and force the issue to get him more involved. It is hard to find rhythm as a youngster when you are not in the lineup on successive days through the year – perhaps aiding in eight passed balls and 43 stolen bases against, second worst in the Arizona League.