The third choice overall in the 1982 June draft (two picks before Dwight Gooden), Jones suffered injuries in three of five unspectacular minor league seasons. San Diego’s choice seemed vindicated when he one-hit the Astros in his major-league debut on September 21, 1986 (a triple off the bat of opposing hurler Bob Knepper kept him from becoming the first Padre ever to throw a no-hitter) but the inconsistent Jones endured the tirades of impatient manager Larry Bowa in 1987 and fell to 9-14 in 1988.
Sent to the Yankees in the Jack Clark trade, Jones didn’t make the team in the spring and appeared in only 11 games, posting a 5.25 ERA. Clashes with Yankee skipper Dallas Green led to another season split between the Bronx and Triple-A in 1990. Jones’ laid-back demeanor immediately put him in Green’s doghouse; during his days in Columbus, one writer opined that the hurler’s main problem was that he “approaches the game with all the emotion of a foul pole”.
Jones left the Yankees for the Astros the following year and pitched decently, despite missing the start of 1992 while recuperating from offseason elbow surgery. At home in the spacious Astrodome, he was at times Houston’s best starter — when healthy.
Even at his best, Jones was haunted by comparisons to Gooden, who starred for the Mets as Jones struggled with his rapidly slowing fastball. “You can’t blame anyone for picking me,” the beleaguered righty explained to the San Diego Union Tribune in 1991. “Back then, I threw a legitimate 95 miles per hour. No one knew that in three years I was going to be throwing 88.”