Some baseball players are late bloomers.
While some prospects are seen as Blue Chip, can't miss, surefire future All-Stars from a very young age, other players seem to sneak up on baseball, making it the the big leagues without much hype before taking the league by storm. Often treated with a, "where did this guy come from?!" label by many in the media, it's almost seen as an automatic fluke when lesser-known young players make that kind of instant impact.
The 25-year-old Jones -- Seattle's fourth round selection in the 2009 draft -- is one of 36 players drafted out of Long Island University, but he became just the second to make the big leagues from the school when he debuted for the Mariners on April 18th of this year. James' debut that day was innocent enough; he entered the game against the Marlins as a defensive replacement for pinch hitter Stefen Romero in the bottom of the 7th then picked up his first Major League hit on an infield grounder to the second baseman that he beat out. Jones was sent back down to Triple-A Tacoma a few days later where he extended his hitting streak to 10 games for the Rainiers before again being summoned to the big leagues by Seattle, pegged to replace the struggling Abraham Almonte.
Jones got right back to work upon his return to the M's, making the most of his opportunity to play. He picked up a 2-hit game in his first start on May 6th, the first of 10 straight games played (seven starts) in center for Seattle, and after his first dozen games in the major leagues the left-handed swinging Jones has an impressive slash line of .367/.441/.500 in 35 plate appearances. And those numbers haven't been the result of a quiet performance.
Jones' impressive tools have been on full display, as he's used his speed -- on defense to make a few outstanding plays, beat out two infield hits and collect his first stolen base -- and shown the patience and plate discipline desired in a top-of-the-order bat (drawing four walks), while also hitting the ball hard consistently (20.8% line drive rate) counting four doubles already among his first 11 MLB hits. Not bad for a player who hadn't yet seen Double-A at the start of 2013.
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