Offseason Q&A with Jason Jones

Battle Creek RHP Jason Jones sits down with for an offseason Q&A session to give us insights on his high school and college playing days, how he had more success as a pro than in college, what his repertoire is like, which Yankees' prospects impress him the most, and much more.

PinstripesPlus: Jason, tell us a little bit about your high school and college playing days if you would please.

Jason Jones: I played all four years for a private high school at Arlington Baptist High School in Baltimore, Maryland. Our high school team was not the greatest so it is not like we had many scouts coming to look at us. I also played on the area travel team, the Maryland Orioles. The only schools that had offered me scholarships were Western Carolina and Liberty. I could have walked on at George Mason University and the University of Indiana, but Liberty offered me the best scholarship and I decided to go there. I didn't throw very hard in high school, maxing out at 84 MPH, so you can understand why I didn't get a ton of scholarship offers. Another big reason why I chose Liberty too was I liked their pitching coach, Randy Tomlin. He spent countless hours with me on my mechanics. In 2001, I was used as a spot middle reliever but was able to throw a little harder, about 86 MPH. In 2002, I set the school record for wins, but that was more because we had tremendous hitting on that team. But I was starting to throw even harder, around 88-89 MPH. In the fall of 2002, I suffered a knee injury in the weight room and had a stress facture of my femur on my left leg and had a bone bruise. I missed the entire 2003 season after numerous MRI's and had to rehab for the next nine months. I did play for the Torrington Twisters later that summer before my junior year in the New England Collegiate League and I remember I broke 90 MPH for the first time in the All-Star Game. When I got back to school for my junior year, I was able to throw 90-92 MPH consistently and I even hit 94 MPH a few times.

PinstripesPlus: It sounds as if you were a late bloomer, able to add velocity as you matured. Take us back to the months leading up to draft day. Were you aware that the Yankees had interest in you? Were any other teams looking at drafting you?

Jones: I kind of knew it was going to be between the Yankees, Giants, Orioles, and Brewers. During my leg injury, I was able to analyze my mechanics more and Randy Tomlin really helped me mature as a pitcher. With having nine months off from the injury, I was just trying to get everything back. When I was just throwing in the mid 80's in high school, I had to be more about control. So my consistency was always there. My last two starts of the year I threw a 4-hitter and a 6-hitter and I carried that momentum into the workouts at Yankee Stadium when I was invited there before the draft. And after pitching well there, much to my surprise, the Yankees selected me in the fourth round. I was thrilled.

PinstripesPlus: You posted much better numbers in your first professional season than you did in college. How do you explain that?

Jones: Well like I said, having that year off and being injured, it took me a while to get back to where I wanted to be. I think I was pitching so well towards the end of my college season and into the workouts that the momentum carried me a little bit into my first season with the Yankees. But I think it was more because I started pitching to my strengths. I finally figured out the mental aspects of pitching and figured out things for myself. I was also able to get a lot more movement with my 2-seam fastball this past summer. I was able to throw more inside and out with my location. I was throwing more inside in college. I just learned to mix up my pitches better and when to throw the right pitch.

PinstripesPlus: Give us a scouting report on yourself now. What type of pitches do you throw and what speeds? What is your best pitch?

Jones: I throw a 2-seam fastball and a 4-seam fastball. I am able to throw both pitches inside and outside. My 2-seam fastball is about 88-90 MPH and my 4-seam fastball is around 90-92 MPH consistently. I have a curveball that is around 73-75 MPH. I have a changeup clocked between 81-83 MPH and it is a pitch that helps me set up my slider and fastball better. My slider is my out pitch right now. It is about 81-83 MPH. My 2-seam fastball has good sinking action to it and it is probably my second best pitch behind my slider. In Battle Creek, I couldn't get away with my fastball as much so I threw a lot of sliders and curveballs. I really worked hard on my changeup at the Instructional League last fall and that should be a major pitch for me from now on. I don't strike guys out very much. I am up there to throw off the timing of the batters and work different spots on the plate.

PinstripesPlus: Do you know where you will begin the year next season?

Jones: I am trying to make it to Tampa to start off the season and keep improving. If I keep throwing well, I could be ready for Trenton later in the year if I continue to work on my game.

PinstripesPlus: We've all heard how great the Yankees treat their prospects. But at the same time, the Yankees are an organization where the chances are better than average that they'll trade away their prospects. Does that enter in your mind at all? How does it make you feel that there is a chance you could be traded to another team down the road?

Jones: Playing professional baseball is a gift in of itself. I would love to make it with the Yankees and stay in the system. With all the nostalgic feelings that come with being a memeber of this organization, of course I'd love to be a part of that. I would like to stay but it wouldn't be the end of the world if I was traded down the road. I would still be a professional baseball player and that's still pretty good.

PinstripesPlus: Of the positional players that you played with this past season, which Yankees' prospect, or prospects, impressed you the most?

Jones: Matt Carson is as good as it gets when it comes to tools. He has a great attitude, good range, and a great arm. (laughing) I know for a fact that he saved a few runs for me. Marcos Vechionacci is also very good. He's so young, but yet he is real patient and has a very good eye at the plate. He is going to be very good in the future, if not even as soon as this coming year.

PinstripesPlus: Turning to the pitchers for a moment, which pitcher, or pitchers, were you most impressed with this past season?

Jones: Jesse Hoover and Tyler Clippard really stick out as two guys with really high ceilings. Jesse was the one guy though that I really like. He throws so hard and he works really hard on his other pitches. When he gets his changeup, it is going to make his fastball even better, which is a really scary thought.

PinstripesPlus: You mentioned you were down at the Instructional Leagues this past fall. Which one player stood out in your mind as the player with the highest upside?

Jones: Well of course I had heard a lot about Eric Duncan and after seeing him, I have to agree with what everybody was saying about him. He has a ton of talent and potential. It is just obvious. But the thing that impressed me the most about him was his work ethic and attitude. He's going to be a special player. would like to thank Jason Jones for taking the time to answer our questions this offseason. Be sure to visit the site often next season as we'll check in with Jason from time to time.

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