VISALIA, Calif. – The Visalia Rawhide open the 2023 season on Thursday at Lake Elsinore, and this year’s team will feature a highly-touted 19-year-old with baseball in his genes.
Druw Jones will make his professional debut with the Rawhide this season.
Jones was the second pick in the first round of the 2022 MLB Draft out of Wesleyan School in Peachtree Corners, Georgia. He is the son of former Major League Baseball standout Andruw Jones, who played 17 seasons in the big leagues and made five All-Star teams.
Jones didn’t make his professional debut last summer after tearing the labrum in his left shoulder during a batting practice session and having surgery.
“First day out here I’m just excited to be out here and be a part of the team this year,” said Jones, at Monday’s Rawhide media day at Valley Strong Ballpark. “Just take it day-by-day, step-by-step, and come out here and win ballgames.”
According to Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook, the Rawhide have three players who are top 30 prospects in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. Jones is ranked as the third best prospect in the system.
19-year-old Manuel Pena from the Dominican Republic is ranked as the 21st prospect in the D-backs organization, after being the highest paid international signee in 2021. He is one of 18 players on the Rawhide’s opening roster, who spent time with Visalia last season. He hit .248 in 36 games with the Rawhide in 2022.
The other top 30 prospect starting this season in Visalia is Andrew Pintar, the 25th ranked prospect according to Baseball America. He is a former walk-on at BYU, who was drafted last year in the fifth round. He will be making his professional debut with the Rawhide.
“I think this team is gonna be very exciting,” said first-year Visalia manager Dee Garner, who previously spent time with the Rawhide as the first base coach. “We have Druw Jones out here. We got a lot of returning guys, Guzman, Conticello, Pena. I’m looking for great things from those guys with the experience they got last year.”
The Rawhide’s home opener at Valley Strong Ballpark is scheduled for Tuesday, April 11 against Rancho Cucamonga. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.