SHANKS: So how has the last week gone for you?
JONES: I'm 18 years old and I've never been to Disney World and I'm living there now. The first couple of days are rough. The guys you meet are great and it's getting a whole lot easier.
SHANKS: Tell me about your high school career? Have you always been a pitcher?
JONES: When I got there, my coach told me I had a chance to be a Division 1 prospect. I started to get my name out there in tournaments and started to know this could be my life in the future. That's how I approached it. At the end of my sophomore year I went Perfect Games and that's when I knew I had a shot to be a professional baseball player.
SHANKS: Were you a showcase kid?
JONES: No, sir. To tell you the truth I went my sophomore year to get my name out there and I didn't go back again. Baseball is a big part of my life, but I still wanted to have my free time. I like to do other things, like hunt and fish and things like that.
SHANKS: Have you always been a pitcher?
JONES: No, actually I was going to go to LSU and get a shot at being a two-way player there. Growing up I was always a good pitcher, but I was always a good hitter. I put up some good numbers in high school as a hitter.
SHANKS: When did you know the Braves were interested in you?
JONES: In my junior year they came to see me a couple of times, but this year Mr. Don Thomas went to a lot of my ballgames. Then I went to the showcase (tryout) in Atlanta and they said I was one of the top people on their list, so I knew had a shot to be an Atlanta Brave.
SHANKS: Did you grow up a Braves fan?
JONES: Cubs fan to be honest with you. I was a big Cubs fan. But from where I'm from, in Southern Louisiana we get Cubs and Braves games on TV, so you learn to like one of them and love the other.
SHANKS: So when did you come to Turner Field for your workout?
JONES: Beginning of June - June first and second or something. It went well. I got to see the big league field. The weather wasn't too good, but it was a good experience.
SHANKS: Who else was there trying out?
JONES: Sean West, Josh Wall, and several others.
SHANKS: Did you work out with anyone else?
JONES: I worked out with the Dodgers. That was a great experience. Everybody should go to a big league field like that and live the big league lifestyle for a couple of days.
SHANKS: Tell me about your stuff?
JONES: I throw a four-seam and a two-seam fastball, but mainly a four-seamer. It's usually in the 90-92 range and I've hit 93-95. I throw a curve and a slider. The curve is 72-76 and the slider is 82-83 and a straight change up.
SHANKS: What's your best breaking ball?
JONES: Probably my curve ball. Now that I'm coming to Atlanta, they've told me I can probably put that slider in my pocket. Whatever they say, I'll do.
SHANKS: So going into the draft, what did you want to have happen?
JONES: I wanted to be a Brave. My dad and I talked about it and prayed about it. That's what I wanted to have happen. It's close to home. The Dodgers were going to send me out old me I can probably put that slider in my pocket. Whatever they say, I'll do.
SHANKS: Is it pretty obvious that a kid your age would be foolish not to want to be a Brave?
JONES: Yes sir. It's a team where you know you're going to great instruction just going on the past. You know you're not going to be rushed to the big leagues. They win and they've got a great farm system. I'll get a chance to really develop and when you do take the hill as a big leaguer hopefully you'll be mentally prepared.
SHANKS: Some scouts in BA were worried about your laid back nature.
JONES: I love the game, and I love to play it, but I know when to draw the line. When you step on those white lines, it's all business. It's a work-like attitude. You go out there and do a job, which is to get people out. I love to play the game. I've really got a love for it.
SHANKS: Roy Clark really wanted you. Did you know how much he wanted you?
JONES: He talked through Mr. Don for me. Mr. Don told me they were real interested and that if they got a chance to pull the trigger on me they would do it. They didn't lie to me. They shot it straight with me. You can't ask anything better than that.
SHANKS: It must be good knowing you're coming to a pitching organization?
JONES: That's all you can ask for it to be treated fairly and not be rushed. You have to be prepared to make that first big league start. I know that the first time I take the rubber for the Atlanta Braves, I'm going to be ready.
Bill Shanks has a new book out on baseball scouting and player development. Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team is in bookstores now. Bill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jones Happy To Be A Brave
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