Virginia's Connor Jones could be a first-round pick if mechanics, UVA's history don't hold him back

Virginia right-hander Connor Jones struck out nine of 28 hitters in 7.1 shutout innings against Wake Forest. John Peterson/Icon Sportswire

Connor Jones started Friday's first game for the University of Virginia and pitched well against a light Wake Forest lineup that was without its best hitter, Will Craig. Jones struck out nine of 28 hitters in 7.1 shutout innings. He was 90-93 mph with his fastball, throwing a lot of 87-89 mph sinkers along with a 79-81 mph slider that has sharp-but-early break and a handful of average changeups. He's around the zone all the time and works up with the four-seamer and down with the sinker, although he might be better off throwing more sinkers to keep the ball on the ground against a better lineup. There's nothing plus here -- you might throw a 55-grade on the sinker or slider, but that's about it, with nothing that's going to miss better bats than the Deacons were able to send up to the plate.

One concern I've heard on Jones quite often this spring is that UVA has yet to produce a single good big-league starter. The all-time WAR leader among pitchers drafted out of Virginia is … sidearming lefty Javier Lopez, at 8.5. No one else is over 5.0, and no UVA alum has made more than 53 starts in the majors. Just recently, Danny Hultzen, Nathan Kirby and Branden Kline blew out after signing. Nick Howard has the yips and Jake Thompson was released less than three years after he signed. The explanation I hear is that Virginia teaches a specific style of delivery that produces success in the short term but causes problems in the long term, and I could see that with Jones on Friday.