LA Angels News

Which LA Angels non-roster infielders can make the Opening Day team?

By Ryan Falla
SURPRISE, AZ - NOVEMBER 03: AFL East All-Star, Jahmai Jones #9 of the Los Angeles Angels waits on deck during the Arizona Fall League All Star Game at Surprise Stadium on November 3, 2018 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SURPRISE, AZ - NOVEMBER 03: AFL East All-Star, Jahmai Jones #9 of the Los Angeles Angels waits on deck during the Arizona Fall League All Star Game at Surprise Stadium on November 3, 2018 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Jahmai Jones

Jahmai Jones has been with the Angels since 2015 after being drafted out of High School in Georgia. We’ve already seen a world of promise and talent from the developing second baseman and he’s still just 21. Jones was originally drafted as an outfielder before being moved to second base with the intention of getting him through the farm system faster.

Given the strides prospects such as Taylor Ward have made after switching positions there is a lot to believe in with this move. Lo and behold, just half a season after making the switch to second base, Jahmai Jones showed himself to be an All-Star.

Coming as no surprise, while in MiLB Class A Advanced (Inland Empire 66ers) Jones earned a Cal League All-Star accolade. Although Jones had a fantastic developmental year in 2018 there were some noticeable kinks.

Despite carrying a .282 batting average in 2017 Jones saw his average drop to .239 in 2018, his total hits dropping from 146 In 2017 to 115 in 2018 (578 Plate Appearances in 2017, 558 Plate Appearances in 2018). However, Jones game improved in so many other ways that his drop in average isn’t as pressing as it seems.

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For instance, Jones OBP only dropped from .348 to .337 from 2017 to 2018, and given how much less he got on base due to the hit we can see that his on-base approach remained as solid as ever if not better. Actually, it was better, Jones upped his walk total from 45 (2017) to 67 (2018) in 20 less Plate Appearances.

Another promising skill was his situational hitting, which saw Jones rope in 55 RBI’s compared to 2017’s 47. Not the biggest jump, but still a noticeable improvement, especially when factoring in that big drop in average as well as the lesser total in PA.

On the base paths Jones showed an improved value as well; in 2017 Jones nabbed 27 bases while being caught 13 times, yet 2018 saw those numbers improve to 24 stolen bases with just 4 caught steals. 2018 also saw Jones come around to score 80 runs compared to his 2017 total of 86.

There’s a lot to take in here, despite his average dropping he found a way to improve his offensive numbers across the board. With a return to hitting form you’d have to think that there would be a massive leap from his 2018 to 2019.

We’re likely on the cusp of a huge breakthrough season from Jones, though it’s doubtful we’ll see that in the Majors in 2019. Jones clearly still has some development left to go and it wouldn’t make sense to expect him to have that breakthrough season he’s on the cusp of in the Majors. Seeing Jones make the squad out of Spring Training or join very early in 2019 would likely be too much of a rush.

There’s still so much potential that needs to be realized and we’re painfully close to seeing that realization. Best case scenario, Jones has his breakthrough and joins the club in the last quarter of the season. Maybe even around the halfway point depending on the pace of development and depth needs.

Given that the Angels have plenty of depth at 2nd it isn’t likely that we’ll see Jones at any time in 2019 barring a September callup, last resort depth option, or a developmental explosion from Jones.

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