Padres Prospect Interview: Daryl Jones

FORT WAYNE - Of the first three picks of the 2004 draft, Daryl Jones, 19, may be the Padres last hope to salvage something. Matt Bush's problems have been well documented and Billy Killian, the second round pick in the 2004 draft was sent to Texas in the Adam Eaton deal, still can't hit in his third year of professional baseball.

Jones had the best start of any of the three rookies in 2004, hitting .295/.327/.389 but stumbled badly in his next season at Eugene hitting .188/.263/.267 in a year marred with injuries, bad outsight and never really getting off of the "schnide".

Jones has bounced back this year and is showing what the Padres scouts environed in him when they selected him in the 2004 draft a big 6-foot-3 power hitter.

Jones was named to the Midwest All Star team and like his fellow 19-year old teammate Kyle Blanks, with whom he shares first base and the DH spot, is among the leaders in the Midwest League in several batting categories.

You had a good year when you were first drafted by the Padres in 2004 with the Arizona League Padres (short-season A), then a tough season with Eugene (advanced short-season A ball) now you are having your best year with the Fort Wayne Wizards (low full-season A ball). What has been the biggest change?

Daryl Jones: Last year I had an ankle injury so I kind of missed a few months which limited how much I could work out. I worked out really hard in the off-season and in spring training and it carried over into the season.

The key is just to keep a consistent work ethic and show it everyday.

So last year not being able to work out was more of a case of messing up your timing than an injury carrying over?

Daryl Jones: Yes, right from the get-go. I had surgery in the off-season [2005], then I missed spring training and they kind of just threw me into games after that, so I was all out of whack.

We heard that you were having trouble seeing the ball last year because of your contacts. How did it effect you for the whole season instead of just a few days?

Daryl Jones: I had some contacts in Arizona and they didn't work. Then some new ones in Eugene and they didn't work. So this off-season I went to a different doctor and now these are working out for me.

You hit with a lot of power. When I first read about you they said most of your power was to right and center field. Have you started to pull the ball more?

Daryl Jones: I have power to all fields. I do hit a lot to right field, but here they are trying to pitch me in so I'm hitting more to left. I like to pull the ball, but really want to hit the ball hard where it is pitched.

Our readers are going to wonder how you went from hitting .188 in Eugene to being in the top 10 in the Midwest League in quite a few offensive categories? Do you see the change more from things you did on your own as opposed to the competition?

Daryl Jones: Well last year a lot of things happened that were on me. I know what I can do and confident in my abilities. I also have Blanks out here, and he's pushing me. I pretty much try to be myself and stay within my game.

You had some really good numbers in high school. How did you make the decision between playing baseball in college and going pro?

Daryl Jones: I pretty much just talked to my dad. I was young just 17 so my dad really helped me make the decision. I trust him. I signed with Cal State-Fullerton, which was a pretty good backup option.

I was drafted in the fourth round, which is honor, so I thought I would take it and come play pro ball.

It seems things are working out pretty well?

Daryl Jones: Yeah, things are working out pretty good. [laughs]

What is the biggest difference between living in Fort Wayne compared to Southern California?

Daryl Jones: The traffic. There is so much traffic in LA and there is a lot of wide open areas out here.

Contact senior writer John Conniff at conniff@sandiegosports.net


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