Jones Can Go Long - When He Connects

      Mitch Jones can crush a ball. No doubt about that. Put a fast ball anywhere near his hitting zone and he's likely to deposit it in the next area code. Look at the home run totals. In 2004, he hit 39 out in the Eastern League. The last two seasons, playing for Columbus in the International League, he's racked up a cumulative 48. So, how in the world did the Yanks let this guy get away?

      A glance at his strikeout totals tells you why. While he was sending those 48 into orbit in 2005 and 2006, he was also striking out 174 times. Over a seven-year career, he's averaged a whiff every three trips to the plate. The Yanks found that unacceptable so it was off to free agency with never a time up in the big leagues.

    Power like that is something you don't find hanging out there loose and the Dodgers snapped Mitch up two days after Christmas. Now he's at Las Vegas and doing just about what you'd expect. He has a very nice .400 average, he's already sent three balls out of the yard  so that's positive. However, in 25 at-bats- and here's that disclaimer, again- he's whiffed 12 times

.      The problem has always been the same- breaking pitches. He's after fast balls like female fans after Derek Jeter. But when a breaking ball comes up there, his bat seldom makes their acquaintance. The highest he's ever hit for a season is .268, something he managed twice 

.    Mitch is 29 now and the promise he showed when he came out of Arizona State has been dulled. Still, he can play both first and the outfield and has been doing so for Vegas depending upon where they want James Loney that evening. They've been trying to get James some time in the outfield so he could be more useful when called back up so Mitch will be at first that night. When James goes back to his more comfortable spot, Mitch moves out to the field.

    They want that bat in there  which is natural the way he's been hitting. Still, in his eighth season, he hasn't shown signs of getting to know curves enough to warrant consideration for the bigtime. Let a fast ball come into the neighborhood, though, and watch  it travel up there to the Space Lab.

   It may well be that he's in the system on a one-year trial. But that's what they thought was the case with Wilson Valdez and see who's a Dodger now. That's Mitch's objective, of course, but he'd welcome any major league look that he could engender.

   Meanwhile, the 51's will have to take the "K's" to get the big blasts. That's the Mitch Jones way of doing business.

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