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Guardians call up Nolan Jones

The long-awaited debut for Cleveland’s 2016 second-round pick is on the horizon

2021 Cleveland Indians Photo Day Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Guardians are officially making A Move and calling up one of their top prospects, third baseman/outfielder Nolan Jones. The move was first reported by Guardians Prospective and made official by the team Friday afternoon before the series opener against the Royals.

Originally drafted as a shortstop, Jones was Cleveland’s second-round pick (55th overall) in the 2016 draft out of Holy Ghost Prep School in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. He quickly made the move to third base and more recently to the outfield when it became apparent that the organization had their third baseman of the future in José Ramírez.

Jones’ promotion couldn’t have come at a more desperate time for the Guardians, as they are coming off a sweep at the hands of the Tigers and losing seven of their last 10. Their hopes of winning the AL Central, which seemed well within reach not long ago, are diminished now with a 4.5-game deficit to the Twins. Jones shouldn’t be expected to be a cure-all for the ailing Guards offense, but any boost is a good boost right now.

Jones was once considered the Guardians’ top prospect but has slipped to seventh according to MLB Pipeline, sixth according to FanGraphs, and seventh according to our community vote in January.

Promising minor-league seasons in 2018 and 2019 had some outlets thinking he could debut as early as 2020. But, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic eliminated the mionr-league season that year, and as a result, slowed Jones’ progress. He came out in 2021 with a disappointing campaign, slashing .238/.356/.431 for a career-low 113 wRC+. It left a lot of external scouts wondering what kind of impact he would have at the major-league level, and when he would actually make it there.

Internally, the Guardians never gave on Jones, and he powered his way to a .311/.417/.500 slash in 23 Triple-A games this season, despite getting a late start to the year with ankle and lower-back injuries.

Presumably, Jones will see a lot of playing time in right field as Oscar Gonzalez rehabs his own abominable injury that has kept him sidelined since June 29.

In a corresponding move, Cleveland optioned Richie Palacios to Triple-A Columbus to make room for Jones. The club also activated Austin Hedges from the injured list and designated catcher and part-time relief pitcher Sandy Leon for assignment.