MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – The Montgomery Biscuits not long ago finished a collection versus the Mississippi Braves this 7 days and with the workforce from Pearl in town, largely all eyes were being on Michael Harris II, the No. 1 prospect in the Atlanta Braves business, and rightfully so.
But on the exact subject with Harris II at moments, a person from his exact same draft class, and drafted two rounds previously in Montgomery Biscuits shortstop Greg Jones. Jones touts notable star electricity of his own – he’s listed by MLB as the No. 5 prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays firm, and baseball is pretty much rather basically his existence.
“Only activity I at any time played in my entire existence,” mentioned Jones. “Started playing baseball when I was five and that’s all I at any time actually needed to do at that issue. It is like, ‘I wanna be a professional baseball player.’ So, I just trapped to the objective.”
Jones was a standout growing up in Cary, North Carolina. From chasing butterflies in the outfield at an early age to locking down his situation about the age of 10 or 11 yrs old. It is all-around that time that Jones claims he commenced doing work with a single of his important baseball influences, Clay Counsell.
“Me and Clay go way back. We started hitting alongside one another likely about 10, 11 decades aged and he was the 1st man or woman to ever introduce me into…getting movies of my swing, and heading back again and observing them and displaying me how it’s meant to glance and what I’m meant to do,” he said.
By the time Jones got to superior school, he explained he felt matters change for him as a sophomore in large college.
“I had a truly fantastic period. I batted like .460 – which I necessarily mean it is higher school…I know it’s high university but that just gave a higher faculty baseball participant that imagined of, ‘Yo, I can enjoy at a large degree,’” explained Jones.
It is also all around 10th quality that Jones undertook the very tricky undertaking of swap hitting. A purely natural appropriate-handed player, Jones joked he only jumped on the other facet of the plate to make his speed even more of an advantage.
“Obviously it worked for a minimal little bit, but you just cannot just get up there and only bunt on the still left side. They’ll know it each individual time, so [I thought], ‘Maybe I should start swinging it a minimal bit’ and just rolled with it, stayed with it all through high faculty,” said Jones.
Jones realized his switch-hitting could grow to be a beneficial asset for him if conquered. He did, and as he conquered that mountain, another lay just before him – the selection to either pursue professional or university ball. Jones was drafted out of substantial faculty by the Baltimore Orioles in the 17th round of the 2017 MLB Draft, but the selection to transform pro just didn’t come to feel ideal to him.
“I felt like I wasn’t all set mentally or physically for skilled baseball, so took my skills to higher education,” he explained.
The fast shortstop would go on to attend the College of North Carolina Wilmington where by he scorched the college or university ranks for two seasons. In two a long time, Jones strike for a .309 average – jumping from .279 his freshman yr up to .341 his sophomore campaign. He also gathered 139 hits, 11 of which have been triples. His pace, Jones’s greatest asset, assisted him swipe 58 bags, together with 42 his remaining year at UNCW.
He would garner accolades this kind of as the Colonial Athletic Association’s Player of the Yr in 2019, a number of very first-workforce honors in 2019 as nicely a couple All-American nods. But the issue Jones remembers most from his time at UNCW, is the effect his head mentor Mark Scalf produced on him.
“Had a ton of childish in me when I got to university and there is no location truly in baseball…to be a child. You received to be a fantastic teammate at the close of the day and coach Scalf bought that out of me actual brief,” stated Jones. “I truly feel like he molded me as a human becoming, as a man these days.”
Following the 2019 time, Jones entered the 2019 MLB Draft the place he was picked 22nd all round by the Tampa Bay Rays. In a few calendar yrs, Jones turned himself into a 1st-round draft decide on, officially completing his childhood desire of getting to be a professional baseball player.
In his initially season as a experienced, Jones hit for a .335 ordinary and stole 19 bases in Brief-A ball. With no slight league season in 2020 thanks to COVID, Jones commenced past period in Significant-A, hitting .291 with 13 homers and 27 stolen bases in just 56 online games. His participate in attained him a contact up to Double-A Montgomery the very last little bit of the time.
His passion for the video game shines through his participate in.
“It’s just anything you have labored for so hard your whole existence and you have it suitable in this article in front of you, so why not give it your very best shot?” he claimed.
While he struggled in Montgomery in direction of the close of last year, and the commencing of this yr, Jones appears to be figuring it out as of late. Right after setting up 2-for-25 this 12 months, Jones has ripped off a string of 13 hits in his very last 44 at-bats, hitting at a .295 clip. His transform was easy.
“Just holding my head still and stop drifting early in the depend. Drifting, like falling into my front facet, being back and trying to keep my head continue to,” he mentioned. “It allowed me to see the ball a lot superior and I can assault from there. That is why I began attacking pitches earlier in the rely induce I’m seeing them much better.”
With the improved normal in that extend also arrived the power. In that extend of online games, Jones slugged 4 doubles and two homers. By means of it all, Jones is capable to maintain a beneficial angle simply because of his teammates and understanding what all he however has remaining to attain.
“It actually aids when you have excellent teammates all over you. Guys you can chat to, and chat you by way of it,” he reported. “People invested a lot of time and the income into this and I’m just not gonna toss it away.”
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