MadFriars Interview: Daryl Jones

Pressure is nothing new for Daryl Jones, but the 18 year old says that a 'calm, even keel' approach is what he's always taken, and what he will continue to take. Want tough? The kid played for more than a month on a broken ankle. Want tougher? After off season surgery to repair the ankle Jones was ready for opening day and talked to about leaving his mark on the game.

MadFriars:  You were taken in the fourth round last year, and while some of the top prospects went to Eugene you stayed in extended Spring, did that bother you?


Daryl Jones:  It doesn't really bother me, I had surgery on my ankle in the offseason so I didn't play in even one game this Spring, so I think a lot of this is about me getting more game experience and just getting my timing back. 


MadFriars:  What happened to your ankle?


Daryl Jones:  Last year about half way through the season I fractured it.


MadFriars:  But you played the full year.


Daryl Jones:  Yeah, I kept playing on it, when it first happened we all thought it was just a sprain.  I was running out a ground ball and hit the bag, and I didn't roll it or land wrong or anything.  It was really freaky because I didn't even land wrong.  I've got a condition where the bones in my ankles grow diagonally, and so even though I didn't land wrong or anything it just broke.  I taped it up for the rest of the season, the trainers thought it was just sprained, and so did I.  I played in the instructional league everyday with it taped, and it would swell up and then go away, and then swell up again.  This offseason it really started to hurt, so I called the Padres, they got me with a doctor, and I got it fixed.


MadFriars:  So you're 100% now?


Daryl Jones:  Definitely, it's just a matter of getting my timing back now and getting back in game shape.


MadFriars:  You've got big power potential, but only had one homer at Peoria last season, why?


Daryl Jones:  I think a lot of it was just getting experience.  I really didn't know what I was getting into in pro ball.  It was an adjustment, and I didn't play the way I wanted to.  This year, with a little more experience, I'm expecting to do a lot of good things.  Last season was pretty much about me just getting my feet wet, this year is about showing everyone what I can do.


MadFriars:  Some of the guys have told me the adjustment from aluminum to wood is tougher for power hitters, did you find that was the case?


Daryl Jones:  Honestly I like swinging wood a lot more.  When I was in high school I swung aluminum when I had to, but you have to be a better hitter with wood.  With a metal bat you can hit it anywhere on the bat and it'll go.  With wood you have to make better contact to drive the ball, and I can do that.


MadFriars:  What colleges were recruiting you, how tough was the decision to go pro over going to college?


Daryl Jones:  I got recruited from all over the country, and I signed with Cal-State Fullerton, but once I got drafted it was an easy decision to go pro, and I have no regrets.


MadFriars:  Do you feel the pressure of being a top draft pick?


Daryl Jones:  Not really.  It's just the way I am, I stay on an even keel and just don't get excited about much of anything.  Everybody here is good, everybody's treated the same, it doesn't really matter if you were taken in the first round or the fortieth round.  Everybody in Peoria is at the same level once you're in pro ball.


MadFriars:  Scout yourself.


Daryl Jones:  I've got above average bat speed, good power for my age, I'm a pretty well rounded ballplayer.  There's a lot of stuff I need to work on, baseball stuff like base running, and defense, and I'm working on those things all the time, but I think I've got a pretty good upside.


MadFriars:  What was the biggest thing you worked on over the offseason?


Daryl Jones:  It was pretty much about getting healthy last month, but in general I wanted to get stronger, get in better shape.  My swing is pretty defined, but you always work on the mechanics of your swing.  I really wanted to work on my throwing, so I got with a pitching guy and we worked on that together.  My agent, pitched in the Majors and so we would go to a facility in Pasadena and work.  It pretty much went hit, lift, throw everyday.  A lot of little stuff, the way I threw, my arm angle.  I used to throw on the side, as opposed to being on top of the ball, and we worked a lot on the position of my feet when I'm throwing.  I think I've made a lot of progress this offseason, but the last month was all about getting healthy.


MadFriars:  What is the biggest goal for you this season?


Daryl Jones:  Get out of extended and play a full season.  I've never really thought ahead, I try to take things as they come, but it'd be great to go back to Cali and play at home in Lake Elsinore.  I just want to stay healthy all year, and play the whole season so I can show people what I'm capable of.


MadFriars:  Is there disappointment that you were left in extended Spring?


Daryl Jones:  No, because after the surgery they didn't even get a chance to see how much I'd improved in the offseason.  I'm getting a great opportunity to just be here.  I'm going to make the best of it, and once they see that I'm healthy and can play a full year, once I get healthy, I will prove myself on the field.  The Padres didn't guarantee me anything, but they basically said if I play well they will find a spot for me, so that's what I'm going to do.

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