When Beau Jones woke up on June 25, he had a 4.05 earned-run average in 33.1 innings pitched with the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders.
That night, he had perhaps the worst outing of his professional career, surrendering seven runs on six hits and three walks in just one-third of an inning. The appearance raised Jones' ERA by nearly two full runs.
After the game, the Rangers sent Jones back to High-A Bakersfield, where he had played much of the 2008 season.
Jones had little trouble with California League hitters. The 22-year-old yielded just one earned run on eight hits in 16.1 innings. More importantly, Jones walked just two batters while striking out 26. Control has been a problem for Jones in the past, and it had been inconsistent with Frisco earlier in the season.
Upon his return, as seen in the Q&A below, Jones vows to be a more aggressive pitcher and attack with his fastball more often, much like he did with the Blaze.
In Jones' first outing back, coming on August 1, he looked as sharp as ever, pitching 1.2 hitless, walkless innings. With Lone Star Dugout on hand for the performance, Jones fanned three of the six batters he faced and allowed his lone baserunner on a hit batsman.
Jones was extremely aggressive with his sneaky-fast 88-90 mph fastball, and he threw 21 strikes out of 28 pitches. He spotted his fastball well and struck out a pair of batters on 0-2 fastballs—something he likely wouldn't have done in the past. Jones ended his outing by getting a broken-bat popout on an excellent changeup.
The southpaw's second appearance back with the RoughRiders wasn't quite as successful. Jones allowed three runs on three hits and a walk in 2.1 innings, throwing 49 pitches and 27 strikes.
If Jones can become more consistent with his command and aggressiveness, he has the stuff to pitch in the Major Leagues. Jones' changeup is an excellent pitch and his slider has steadily improved throughout the year.
Jason Cole: What were your thoughts initially when they decided to send you back to Bakersfield?
Beau Jones: Any time you get demoted, you're probably not satisfied. I think it was pretty obvious that I wasn't. But after the emotions go away and you settle in and you realize you are the age that you are and that you've still got a lot of baseball ahead of you, you realize that you've got to suck it up. You've got to keep a chip on your shoulder and do what they ask you to do and hopefully they give you another opportunity.
Cole: What did the Rangers tell you when they said you were going back to Bakersfield? Did they say you'd get a chance to come back fairly soon?
Jones: Honestly, I didn't know. I had know idea going down there what my situation held and how long I'd be there or anything like that. I just knew that every time I got the ball, I had to try and shove it to somebody and kind of put the cards back in my hand.
I wanted to push the envelope a little bit and see what happened. I just knew that it was out of my control at that point, so I just had to focus on baseball and trying to get a job done.
Cole: Were you pitching with kind of a chip on your shoulder once you got down to Bakersfield?
Jones: I'd have to say I was. Just for the simple fact that it felt like a slap to the face. It's no disrespect to anybody, but any time you get here and at this level—I was at this level a pretty decent amount of time. I have had success at this level, so I know I can pitch at this level.
But sometimes you've just got to take a step back before you take two forward. Once the emotions went away and you kind of talk to people about your situation—and other people about their situations—you just realize that you've got a lot of baseball ahead of you and it's going to keep going.
Cole: At the end of the day, you are back here with Frisco. Do you feel that you're better off for it?
Jones: I don't know. Obviously I feel that going down there and working with Chav [Dave Chavarria]—just working on a couple of kinks that maybe I could've worked out here, but I had to work them out there. It is what it is.
But I understand it's a business and I understand the aspects of it. They saw that they had to do it. Like I said, no grudges or anything like that. I know it's baseball and a business. The high hand wins, so you've got to do what you've got to do.
Cole: Your numbers there were pretty good, to say the last. How did you feel about the way you pitched with the Blaze?
Jones: You've got to be satisfied, because like you said, the numbers are decent. I did succeed down there. And the main thing was that I just really focused in on throwing the ball across the plate. I just felt like here—the rough outings I had, I beat myself. And that's just a bad feeling when you're a pitcher, to beat yourself.
When I got down there, I just focused in on getting the ball across the plate, making those guys beat me, and getting into counts where I can use my offspeed or use certain pitches to get outs. It went pretty well, and I felt like I had some success.
Cole: Did you feel like you were a little more aggressive when you went down there?
Jones: Yeah. Honestly I did. I felt like I pitched with, like you said, a chip on my shoulder. Kind of like a, ‘Here it is, now hit it,' mentality. Of course that's not going to work everywhere, but being aggressive there and keeping hitters on their heels constantly, it just gives you that little edge. I'm just going to try and keep that going and see where it takes me.
Cole: When did they tell you that you were going back up and when did you get to San Antonio?
Jones: I found out last night [the night before he got to Bakersfield]. It was kind of a bittersweet thing. They told me there was a possibility and to kind of keep my bags by me. And then I found out later that night that I was.
The circumstances, you never want to see anybody go down or nothing like that. But it's opportunity, and you've got to take that and run with it. I've given people opportunities, and now I've got some back, so we'll see what happens.
Cole: What are some of the things you were working on in Bakersfield? I believe your pitching coach here, Jeff Andrews, said something about your posture changing. Tell me a little bit about that.
Jones: Chav was really working on me with my hands—getting my hands going so I could create a little time for error. So everything doesn't have to be perfect. Also closing up a little bit so I'm in a little more natural leg slot, so I don't have to swing as much.
Little things that I've done before and I don't know why I got away from them. I'm going to stick with it and see where it takes me. Like I said, I need to stay aggressive and just try to get guys out.
Cole: What do you feel that those things have done for you results-wise?
Jones: Results-wise, I thought that even if something doesn't feel right, I'm still able to make an adjustment because I've got room for error in my mechanics much more than when I was a little more stationary—a little more open.
If everything didn't hit right, it was going to be a tough time to get the ball over the plate. That's the main thing. I felt that it gives me more room for error to execute pitches if I don't feel exactly correct or something like that.
Cole: Last time I talked to you, you were working on the slider. You're still throwing that slider, I assume?
Jones: Yeah, definitely. Like I told you during the last interview, that's a pitch that was brought to me from the front office. I'm giving it my best shot at it. I'm just sticking with it and every day, like I said—it has its good days and its bad days. But now it's starting to have a little more good days than bad days. It is what it is.
Cole: You had quite a few strikeouts per innings pitched there in Bakersfield. Was there one pitch that you felt you were going to more often to get those strikeouts, or to get those swings and misses?
Jones: I think I was just more aggressive with my fastball. I was in counts where maybe my fastball looked a little harder. Something like that. I was in 0-2 counts and really aggressive with my fastball, so I really felt that I was in control a lot of the time, if that makes any sense.
That's a great thing as a pitcher—to feel like you've got the hitter where you want them. You can throw pitches and get guys out. I think that's probably what helped the most—just being real aggressive up there.
Cole: Have you ever pitched like that since you've been in pro ball?
Jones: I think I've shown glimpses of it. At this level, I've done it a few times. My main thing is that I've just got to be consistent. I believe in myself. It's just about being consistent. That's my main thing—getting a routine, staying mentally focused, and just being consistent. I think everything will be alright.
Aggressive approach working for Jones
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