MadFriars' Interview: Devin Jones

SAN ANTONIO, TX - This off-season Padres' General Manager Josh Byrnes made a trio of astute moves.

Realizing that OF Jaff Decker, INF Logan Forsythe and RHP/Relief Pitcher Brad Brach were probably not going to make the 25-man roster and were eating up valuable space on the 40-man roster, he made a series of trades to prevent other organizations from getting the players for free while getting something in return.

One of the trades he made was acquiring RHP Devin Jones, 23, for former minor league star Brach from the Orioles. Jones was a ninth round pick by Baltimore in 2011 and had his best year in High-A Frederick where he went 7-1 as a starter with a 2.80 ERA in 55 innings. Last year in AA Bowie he stumbled a little with a 5.64 ERA as his strikeout-to-base-on-balls ratio got too high at 108/48 in 123.1 innings.

This season the rangy Jones has been up and down with the Missions, particularly in May. Still the Padres do like what they see from the rangy Jones, who when he is only posses a strong sinker/slider combination.

We caught up with him at the end of April to talk about his transition to the Padres.

You came over from the Orioles organization. How did you hear that you have been traded?

Devin Jones: I was at work at 10:45 in the morning and I heard from Baltimore's Player Development head Brian Graham that I had been traded for a guy that had pitched in the big leagues with the Padres.

I felt good about that aspect of it but it was still kind of a game-changer for me because this really is two different organizations that do things a lot differently. So it was a little bit of an adjustment but it has been fun so far.

Talk a little about how organizations do things differently?

Devin Jones: For me being a pitcher the Orioles had more things pre-throwing and when we worked it was more long-toss. Here, you throw until you are loose and listen to how you arm feels and then you do most of your work on the mound.

How tough is it getting traded from the organization that drafted you because you spent so much of your time with the same guys?

Devin Jones: It takes a lot of adjusting just to getting used to being around different guys and what the organization expects of you. The Orioles love groundball guys and with the Padres I'm still trying to figure out exactly what they do want; or what type of good performance.

This year they moved you from the bullpen to starting. Were you happy with that change?

Devin Jones: I was because I felt I was more of a priority with the Orioles when I was starting. They always said that you can't train a closer to be a closer on the major league level in the minor leagues. You have to get innings.

The Padres have built me up fairly well so my arm was ready for it. This is only my second full season of starting and I'm still trying to figure out how to be successful. This season I figured out on game day I need to be a little more active.

I need to get up in the morning and get some exercise. Then get some breakfast in me to really maximize my performance.

When we talk to guys that move from starting to the bullpen they talk about how much they like not having to worry about pitch sequences and just getting guys out. Also the opportunity to pitch a lot more. It's the opposite with you. How has your adjustment been?

Devin Jones: Me and JJ [Jimmy Johnson, the Missions' pitching coach] kind of had some conversations about it. I was a closer in Low-A but you know its still the same game. They say the hardest outs are the first three outs and the last three outs.

You still have to approach every hitter like a game within a game. I treat every guy that I face as an individual match-up. If I start worrying about holding back, then that is when I am going to start screwing up.

What do you mainly throw?

Devin Jones: I'm pretty much a fastball/slider guy. I will mix in the change-up in the second or third time in the lineup when I think they are cheating on the fastball.

Is the fastball a four or two-seamer?

Devin Jones: It's a two seamer or a sinker. I used to be a four-seam guy and run it up there to 96, but I was also getting hit. I figured out that it was straight and elevated, so I had to make some changes and started to go to the two-seamer which went to the bottom of the zone.

When I'm going good I will throw about 75% fastballs and I'll be fine. The sinker has a little more drop than a two-seamer, which tends to have more run laterally. If I'm on time with my arm then batters are hitting on top of it and I'm getting a lot of ground balls.

That is one stat that I will look at is my ground ball ratio. If that is going good, then I'm doing what I am supposed to do.

Your walks have improved this year. Any reason?

Devin Jones: Every year you try to be prepared coming into Spring Training but you don't want to be too prepared. This spring I really did a lot of work before I came into camp so I kind of had to take it easy a little later because I got a tired arm.

So my mechanics weren't quite where I wanted them to be but its getting there.

Since this is a National League team how do you enjoy getting to hit?

Devin Jones: I enjoy it because I feel that I am more into the game. I was a hitter all through high school and went to Mississippi State originally as an outfielder but then was only allowed to pitch with the coaching change.

That is quite an adjustment getting to hit after not doing it for a number of years. And now you get to face AA pitching?

Devin Jones: Yes, it is. The first time I was up to bat it did look like a 100 MPH but then I started to see the ball a little better and even made some good contact.

So like everything else, the more you work at something, the more it will come around.

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