Are you tired of columns telling you that the smart "pickups" each week are players who already are owned in your league and more often than not sold for real money at auction? If you're hard-core, then this column is for you: real-world pickups for deep AL- or NL-only leagues.
Adam Jones, OF, Mariners: The Mariners' 2003 first-round pick reached the majors last year at age 22 but was overmatched, posting a line of .216/.237/.311 in 74 at-bats. His minor league track record says that he will eventually do much better. Jones is a premier athlete, gifted with plus speed and defensive range to go along with tremendous bat speed. His bat speed and plate coverage have allowed him to hit .291 in the minors, including .314 this year, despite weak plate discipline. Jones also has developing power; he smacked 25 home runs in 420 Triple-A at-bats this year, a career high. He's been compared to Mike Cameron and has a very high ceiling. Despite his speed, Jones is not yet a good base stealer. He also swings at too many breaking pitches outside the zone, leading to high strikeout totals. Strike-zone judgment is Jones' biggest problem, and his approach is likely not refined enough to allow him to hit for average in the majors just yet. Even while compiling a .968 OPS in his stellar Triple-A campaign this year, Jones struck out more than once per game, an unacceptable level for a player who doesn't walk a lot. He is a premium long-term prospect and keeper leaguers should bid very aggressively. He's probably still being rushed a bit, however, so expect some growing pains. His role is still being defined in Seattle, but if he were to play every day, it would be at the expense of veterans Jose Guillen, Jose Vidro and Raul Ibanez. The playing time alone will make Jones valuable during the rest of the season, but expect him to be a liability in the batting average department. He's certainly worth a bid for the rest of 2007, but don't break the bank.