Tigers promote JaCoby Jones to Triple-A Toledo

The future isn’t quite now yet for Tigers prospect JaCoby Jones, but he’s about to take one big step closer to the big leagues. The organization promoted the multi-position slugger, the Tigers’ eighth-ranked prospect by MLB.com, from Double-A Erie to Triple-A Toledo, where he’s expected to settle into center field as his primary position.

The move, first reported by John Wagner of the Toledo Blade, happened after the Mud Hens’ doubleheader Sunday night. Wynton Bernard, who made an impression in Tigers Spring Training the last two years, was sent back to Toledo to Erie to make room, along with outfielder Jason Krizan.

Jones, who turned 24 years old last month, played just 20 games at Erie this year after serving out the final 39 games of the suspension he received last fall for testing positive for a substance of abuse. He batted .312 (24-for-89) with six doubles, two tirples, four home runs and 20 RBIs. His 10 walks boosted his on-base percentage to .393, part of a .991 OPS.

Jones had just been promoted to Double-A when the Tigers acquired him from the Pirates for Joakim Soria, one of Dave Dombrowski’s final deals as team president/general manager. He played 37 games in Erie down the stretch, all of them at shortstop, then went to the Arizona Fall League to start the transition to third base.

Though Jones is a strong 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, he has the athleticism to play several different positions. The Tigers kept their options open with him by having him split his time in Erie between third base and center field the last few weeks. However, Jones will serve as the primary center fielder with the Mud Hens, though he’ll still get some sporadic time at third supporting Casey McGehee.

That shift has short and long-term ramifications on Anthony Gose, who went from Opening Day center fielder in Detroit in April to Toledo by mid-May to now an extra outfielder with the Mud Hens. He entered Monday batting .207 (34-for-164) at Toledo with three doubles, three triples, two homers, 17 walks and 71 strikeouts. He has fanned in 38 percent of his plate appearances.

Meanwhile, Cameron Maybin has taken over in center fielder in Detroit and given the Tigers an infusion of energy, batting .414 (29-for-70) through Sunday with 15 runs scored and nine RBIs. The Tigers have a $9 million option on Maybin for next year, the final part of a five-year, $25 million contract he signed with the Padres before the 2012 season.


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GM would probably prefer not to use a young player as a utility guy, but that might be Jones’ quickest path to the majors while he’s awaiting a chance as a regular somewhere on the diamond.

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