Different Week, Same Story as Saints Closer Zack Jones Has Contract Purchased by Mets Organization
ST. PAUL, MN - The 2018 season changed at the midway point for the St. Paul Saints. Manager George Tsamis signed four players that helped turn around a sluggish first half. Pitcher Chris Nunn, who had his contract purchased by the Texas Rangers at the end of January, was one of those players. A hard throwing righty, Zack Jones, was also signed that day. He too is headed to a Major League organization after the New York Mets purchased his contract. Jones becomes the fifth player from the 2018 team to earn that honor and the 123rd different player in franchise history to have his contract purchased.
The 28-year-old Jones was stellar for the Saints going 1-0 with a 2.03 ERA and 10 saves in 27 relief appearances. In 26.2 innings pitched he walked 10 and struck out 38 while opponents hit a pedestrian .200 against him. Jones was a perfect 10-10 in saves situations and struck out a batter in 13 straight appearances from July 13-August 28. He also didn't allow a baserunner in five consecutive appearances from August 12-21. Jones was even more dominant in the playoffs pitching 3.2 perfect innings of relief in four games. He earned the save in the North Division clinching Game 4 victory over the Gary SouthShore RailCats.
Jones was a dominant arm in the Twins system and a highly touted prospect. He was having a solid season in 2018 at Double-A Chattanooga where he was 1-1 with a 2.49 ERA and one save in 17 relief appearances. In 25.1 innings pitched he walked 25 and struck out 39 while opponents hit a microscopic .119 against him. Despite the struggles with his command early, Jones was much better as the season went along. He continued to strike hitters out at an epic clip, fanning at least one in 16 of 17 games including three or more six times. He struck out five in 2.0 perfect innings of relief on April 29 vs. Tennessee.
Jones was a fourth-round draft pick by the Twins out of San Jose State in 2012 and breezed through the Rookie Appalachian League with Elizabethton. He did not allow a run in six relief appearances and struck out nine in 6.0 innings of work while the league hit .100 against him. Jones was promoted to Single-A Beloit on July 18 and went 0-0 with a 3.21 ERA and four saves in 12 relief appearances. In 14.0 innings he walked seven and struck out an eye-popping 25 while opponents hit .184 against him. He continued his scoreless streak by not allowing a run over his first six appearances, 7.2 innings pitched. He struck out the side on three separate occasions. His team reached the playoffs and lost in the first round to the Clinton LumberKings.
In 2013 Jones had a dominant season at High-A Fort Myers going 4-3 with a 1.85 ERA and 14 saves in 39 relief appearances. In 48.2 innings pitched he walked 28 and struck out a mind boggling 70 while opponents hit a paltry .172 against him. Those numbers earned him a spot in the Florida State League All-Star Game where he pitched 1.0 perfect inning of relief and struck out one. Jones had three separate streaks of six straight appearances without allowing a run and struck out at least one hitter in a career high 22 consecutive games, 43 K's in 30.1 innings pitched, from May 7-July 27. He struck out three or more 10 times including five in 2.0 perfect innings of relief on May 10 at Jupiter. Jones finished fifth in games finished (35) and his team made the playoffs, but lost in the semi-finals to the Charlotte Stone Crabs.
Jones began the 2014 season on the disabled list while he recovered from surgery from an aneurysm in his upper right arm. After doing a six-game rehab stint in the Gulf Coast league, he didn't allow a run in five relief appearances at High-A Fort Myers.
The 2015 season garnered Jones his second All-Star appearance, this time at Double-A Chattanooga. Prior to the All-Star break he was 3-1 with a 2.63 ERA and 10 saves in 23 games. In 24.0 innings pitched he walked 10 and struck out 26 while opponents hit .207 against him. He retired the two batters he faced in the All-Star game and struck out one. Jones went nine consecutive relief appearances without allowing a run (9.0 IP) from April 13-May 8. After giving up 10 runs over his final four appearances his ERA finished at 6.00 with Chattanooga. Jones was placed on the disabled list and then assigned to High-A Fort Myers where he returned to form. He was 2-2 with a 2.19 ERA and two saves in 18 relief appearances. In 24.2 innings pitched he walked 10 and struck out 38 while opponents continued to hit way below the Mendoza Line, .157. He struck out a hitter in 17 of 18 appearances including the final 16. He didn't allow a run in 10.1 consecutive innings from July 21-August 7.
The Milwaukee Brewers claimed Jones in the 2015 Rule 5 Draft, but Jones was placed on the 15-day disabled list, with a right shoulder injury, to begin 2016. He pitched in just five rehab games for the Brewers at High-A Brevard and Triple-A Colorado Springs before being returned to the Twins. Jones spent the rest of the season at Double-A Chattanooga where he went 2-2 with a 2.53 ERA and two saves in 21 relief appearances. In 32.0 innings pitched he walked 15 and struck out a whopping 46 wile opponents hit .198 against him. He once again struck out a batter in all, but one appearance and didn't allow a run in his first 8.0 innings pitched. He did not allow a run in 14 of 21 appearances.
Jones missed most of 2017 after having right shoulder surgery and pitched in just one rehab game.
Jones was dominant at San Jose State where he was the team leader in strikeouts during his junior season, the year he was drafted, with 60. He had a 3.5-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio and averaged 10.0 strikeouts per nine innings during his 10 appearances on the mound. He finished his time with the Spartans as the all-time record holder in saves with 22. He was named the Western Athletic Conference Preseason Pitcher of the Year going into his junior season and was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association "Stopper of the Year" Preseason Watch List. He was chosen by Collegiate Baseball as a 2010 Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American, becoming the school's first honoree since 1999 and one of only seven in school history. He was also named to the Ping!Baseball Freshman All-American Team.
During his senior season at Santa Teresa High, Jones was named Mercury News Baseball Player of the Year. He went 14-0 with a 0.88 ERA with six complete games and four shutouts. He struck out 98 in 88 innings pitched. He was also a dominant at the plate hitting .508 with eight homers and 30 RBI.
Jones becomes the 133rd contract purchased from the Saints, and 123rd different player, including eight who had their contract sold twice and Caleb Thielbar who became the first player to have his contract purchased three times. Of the 133 contracts sold, eight were sold to international teams and a total of 19 have made it to the ultimate level of baseball following their time with the Saints (Julio DePaula, who played for the Saints in 2011, made it to the Major Leagues in 2014, never pitched in a game, but does not show up on the list below because his contract wasn't purchased directly from the Saints). Jones becomes the fifth player from the 2018 team to have his contract purchased joining Josh Allen, who had his contract purchased by the New York Mets in June, catcher Justin O'Conner who had his contract purchased by the Chicago White Sox on January 22, pitcher Chris Nunn who had his contract purchased by the Texas Rangers on January 28, and pitcher Matt Solter, who had his contract purchased by the Cleveland Indians on February 12.
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