Q&A 13th Round Pick, Derek Jones

ITO interviews the Orioles 13th round pick, Derek Jones, a junior outfielder from Washington State. This year Jones hit .275 with 8 homers and 33 RBIs. He struck out 50 times and walked 22. He also stole 9 bases.

InsidetheO’s: Tell us what it feels like to be selected by the Orioles?

Derek Jones: No matter what team picked me, I just kinda wanted to come into the program go into the minors and up to the majors. I am excited with it. I have a real good relationship with the area scout (Brandon Verley) and I am excited to get the ball rolling.

ITO: Talk about your game a little bit. What type of player are you and how do you see yourself fitting in with the Orioles?

Jones: I am kind of a corner outfielder. I can run a little bit, I am not super fast. I can play a little defense. I am more of a power hitter though. I hope to be a corner outfielder in the big leagues here pretty soon, hitting homeruns and driving in some RBIs.

ITO: What are your strengths and your weaknesses?

Jones: I have been told that one of my strengths is that I have “easy power”. I have been hitting homeruns for five or six years now, so that has kind of been my game. I am a good athlete, not a crazy freak athlete like some of the guys that got drafted early, but I was a two-sport athlete in high school. I play pretty good D. I am just kind of an all-around pretty good player. My weaknesses are probably striking out too much. I get a bit too impatient. I am a bit inconsistent. Some times I go off and look like the best hitter in the country and than other times it’s like, “Who’s this kid and why is everyone talking about him”, or something like that.

ITO: How about your defensive game?

Jones: Growing up, I always loved fielding in batting practice. I would tell teammates to lay out and make the “sickest” play they could. Everyone loved to take batting practice, but I loved being in the outfield for it. I am not the fastest guy in the outfield but I feel like I can cover alot of ground based on reads and laying out. I love making good catches. Along with hitting, I pride myself on good defense. Runs saved are just as important as runs scored.

ITO: Who would you compare your game to at the Major League level so the Orioles' fans have an idea of what your game is like?

Jones: I don’t really mold my game after anyone because you dont want to look up to people and try to be them, you will be kidding yourself. I have seen similarities with a Nick Swisher kind of player. 6-foot, big build, not switch hitting but hits for power, plays defense, and a clean-up hitter.

(I told him that he is now an Oriole and was not able to compare his game to Nick Swisher anymore).

ITO: Were you expecting to be drafted by the Orioles or were you surprised they selected you?

Jones: I would not say I was surprised and I wouldn’t say I was expecting it. I got all the information from pretty much everytime. Five or six teams seemed like they had pretty strong interest in me and the Orioles were one. I talked to them on and off since December and when they did draft me, I was not too surprised because I talked to the area scout alot during the season and earlier today so I had a feeling that either the Orioles would, or one or two other teams.

ITO: What would you say is your best moment in baseball and why?

Jones: In high school it was probably winning states in Safeco Field. That was pretty cool. In college it was probably last year in the Arkansas Regional and we went to the Championship games and we beat them the first game. Playing in front of 10,000 people. You are hitting the ball around the yard and your teams winning and you shut the crowd up, it’s a pretty sweet feeling. Especially on the west coast where we don’t get as much of a crowd for our games. It was just an awesome atmosphere and we earned the respect of their fans. That was probably my best college memory.

ITO: Who was your favorite team and player growing up?

Jones: Seattle was definitely my favorite team. I watched them with my dad growing up all the time.

ITO: Have you ever been to the east coast?

Jones: I played in NECBL in Newport, Rhode Island my freshman year and then last year I was out at the Cape.

ITO: What are your immediate plans now that you have been drafted by the Orioles? Is it your intention to sign now and start your professional career immediately?

Jones: My plan right now is to weigh my options. I am looking at either signing, or going to play summer baseball and working out a deal down the road. I am just trying to keep my options open. I wanna put that Oriole uniform on and go wherever they send me and start my career. That’s my intention.

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