Jahmai Jones, one of nineteen non-roster invitees to Spring Training, has the opportunity to clear the biggest hurdle in his development process; a stint in the Big Leagues. For the past three seasons, plenty of excitement has erupted regarding the highly talented prospect.
A former multi-sport athlete in high school, Jones has more than enough talent to break into the big leagues as the LA Angels fourth outfielder. The only question is, can he perform up to expectations this Spring Training?
At the age of 20, Jahmai Jones is on the cusp of breaking into the next phase of his professional baseball career. This is his third Spring training invite, though his first saw him receive zero AB’s while his second brought him only two. Now that he’s in a clear spot pull in a multitude of AB’s in competition for the 4th outfielder spot there’s zero doubt regarding his opportunity to put on his first full showing.
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Coming into this Spring, Jones has tallied together impressive minor league seasons; throughout three seasons across rookie and A-ball levels, Jones has put together a .281/.353/.422 slash line. Jones displayed a great deal of hitting prowess last season in A and A+ ball; 14 HR’s, 7 triples, and 29 doubles in 518 AB’s. Jones hitting prowess has shown incredibly throughout his Minor League career, as shown by his .794 OPS in 2017, which is a negligible drop from his .801 OPS in 2016.
It’s interesting to look at former Angels whose minor league development tracks Jones has mimicked, it makes for an easier outlook on his future development and Spring Training performances. One Angel who Jones follows in step with is, not surprisingly, Torii Hunter.
Both players display a penchant for high-energy baseball, except Jones may very well outrank Hunter in some departments. In Hunters 1998 Minor League season with Twins AA-AAA affiliates, Hunter displayed high-energy offense in the form of a .295/.333/.463 slash with 10 HR, 3 triples, and 31 doubles. As great as Torii Hunters offense always was, he found more recognition for his incredible defense. Jahmai Jones may outpace him when it comes to offense production, only for his ability to bring runs across the board, as Jones scored 86 runs over Torii Hunters 47 in each players last Minor League season (Hunter: 1998, Jones: 2017).
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It should be noted that Jones logged 127 games to Hunters 108, given the disparity it is likely that Hunters offensive numbers would level out with Jones 2017 season.
Jones is well-regarded for his valuable defense; a former wide receiver in high school, acceleration and speed are huge components of his game , both in defense and offense. His ability to blaze across the outfield dimensions, vacuuming fly balls into his glove, it’s all reminiscent of a young Torii Hunter at work.
There’s a ton of competition for Jones this Spring Training, from the other potential 4th outfielders to battling his own youth and inexperience and allowing his talents to shine on their own accords. Spring Training is a bumpy road, and there’s no guarantees Jones will have a stand-out Spring which secures his spot as the Angels 4th outfielder.
All that really matters is providing the opportunity to encourage development by exposing Jones to competition far above what he’s face thus far. The training wheels are coming off, Jones is being made to up his game to that of his Major League peers; no matter the outcome of this Spring Training, it will be a treat to see him carrying these experiences into his next season of work, whether it’s in the Minor Leagues or with the big league Angels.