Jason Jones: Accentuate The Positive

Jason Jones catapulted on to the prospect scene in 2004 after going a combined 5-4 with a 2.61 ERA in 14 starts between Staten Island and Battle Creek last season, walking just six batters in 79.1 innings. And despite posting a 5-13 mark with a 5.68 ERA with the Tampa Yankees this past season, progress was still made to his game.

Drafted in the 4th round of the 2004 MLB Draft out of Liberty, Jason Jones surprised many people inside and outside the Yankees' organization with his pinpoint control in his professional debut with the Staten Island and Battle Creek Yankees last season. Seldom do you find pitchers allowing just six walks in his first fourteen professional starts.

Seemingly disgusted with the idea of giving a hitter a free pass, judging by the amount of hits he gives up versus the low walk totals, Jones has a different take.

"I know I'm a ground ball pitcher," Jones told PinstripesPlus.com in a recent interview. "I try to get a lot of ground balls and that helps my pitch count out a lot. Sometimes I'd rather walk a guy than throw non-quality pitches. If I'm still throwing quality pitches, I'll do that rather than walk a guy. I'd rather throw a quality pitch and get a guy to swing at it though."

But after what many observers would call a disappointing year for Jones in 2005 - 5-13 with a 5.68 ERA and 171 hits allowed in just 128 1/3 innings pitched - it would appear that Jones' progress has regressed. Or so it seems.

"I've had some ups and downs, some good outings and some bad," a level-headed Jones told us. "Lately I've been trying to work on some things, trying to throw a little harder with my mechanics. But overall I'm pretty happy. Of course its not where I want to be. I just kept working with Pav [Tampa Pitching Coach Greg Pavlik] and I think I made a lot of strides this past season with my changeup and pitches like that. I just haven't been able to bring it all together."

While his numbers would have most pitching prospects looking through the want ads for a head start on their careers after baseball, Jones focuses on the positives to his otherwise sub-par season.

"Probably the changeup and just some little things to my mechanics," Jones mentioned as some things that he has done well in '05. "I'm trying to get the most out of my body. But probably the changeup is a pitch that I've spent the most time on this year. I've been using two different grips and the one I used the last month or two is the one I think I made the most strides with."

Still, when opposing batters are hitting .323 off of you for an entire season, things just are not going according to plan. So what was the reason that Jones, who gave up just one more hit than inning pitched in '04, surprisingly gave up 43 more hits than innings pitched this past year?

"I got in a bad habit of pulling off and not staying through the pitch," a humbled Jones revealed. "We watch video tapes a lot and that's one thing I see going on. When you're in the game you don't want to think about mechanics so its all about repetition so when you're in a game you've done it enough so that you can stay on the pitch and throw it through. I'm kind of cutting off and pulling off which caused me to leave the ball up over the plate, which caused me to give up a lot of hits this year. I left the ball up quite a bit."

"For me it is mechanical," Jones continued to analyze. "I think in this league, or AA or AAA, or whatever league, if you leave the ball up, these hitters are too good to not drive the ball somewhere. Whatever the case, if you leave the ball up, they're going to hit it."

Working on his mechanics has been a big key to his development this past season, not only to work on his pitch location, but to harness a little more pop to his fastball.

"He [Pitching Coordinator Nardi Contreras] wants me to throw harder," the big, right-handed pitcher told us. "I've been more concentrated on aiming the ball and hitting my spots rather than just sometimes letting it loose. He's trying to get me to throw harder. He wants me to use my lower body more to try and use what I've got."

"Even that's come along a little this year. In the beginning of the year my stride was real short. The first thing he did when he came in was lengthen my stride to get me closer to the plate. Its little things like that he he's tried to tweak."

While nobody expects Jones to become a blazing fireball pitcher any time soon, Nardi Contreras and the Yankees are just trying to get Jones to be more consistent with his fastball, just a little bit faster.

"I've been in the 88 to low 90's, even topping out at 92 MPH one game this year, nothing consistent though," said Jones. "I'd like to be consistently throwing 90 MPH. I think I have that capability. He [Nardi] is just trying to get my potential out. He thinks, and I agree with him, that I have more that I can produce. He's just trying to get the most out of me."

Despite his disappointing statistics in 2005, Jason Jones realizes that progress was still made. So much so, in fact, that Jones hasn't ruled out the possibility of still moving up to AA-Trenton for the 2006 season.

"Of course I'd like to be moving up next year," Jones told PinstripesPlus.com. "And of course I don't think being back here [in Tampa] would necessarily be a bad thing. It would give me the opportunity to work on some things. But I think I have made some advances and would feel comfortable pitching at the next level. I've made some strides with my changeup. But coming up in the offseason, and working down in the Instructional Leagues, and then coming into Spring Training next year, I think I could have a chance. I'd like to be in AA."

Baseball is about making adjustments and playing with confidence. Despite what many would call terrible numbers, Jason Jones not only looks at the positives, but is seemingly more confident that he ever has been.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n\r\n\r\nDrafted in the 4th round of the 2004 MLB Draft out of Liberty, Jason Jones surprised many people inside and outside the Yankees' organization with his pinpoint control in his professional debut with the Staten Island and Battle Creek Yankees last season. Seldom do you find pitchers allowing just six walks in his first fourteen professional starts.
\r\n
\r\nSeemingly disgusted with the idea of giving a hitter a free pass, judging by the amount of hits he gives up versus the low walk totals, Jones has a different take.
\r\n
\r\n\"I know I'm a ground ball pitcher,\" Jones told PinstripesPlus.com in a recent interview. \"I try to get a lot of ground balls and that helps my pitch count out a lot. Sometimes I'd rather walk a guy than throw non-quality pitches. If I'm still throwing quality pitches, I'll do that rather than walk a guy. I'd rather throw a quality pitch and get a guy to swing at it though.\"
\r\n
\r\nBut after what many observers would call a disappointing year for Jones in 2005 - 5-13 with a 5.68 ERA and 171 hits allowed in just 128 1/3 innings pitched - it would appear that Jones' progress has regressed. Or so it seems.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've had some ups and downs, some good outings and some bad,\" a level-headed Jones told us. \"Lately I've been trying to work on some things, trying to throw a little harder with my mechanics. But overall I'm pretty happy. Of course its not where I want to be. I just kept working with Pav [Tampa Pitching Coach Greg Pavlik] and I think I made a lot of strides this past season with my changeup and pitches like that. I just haven't been able to bring it all together.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile his numbers would have most pitching prospects looking through the want ads for a head start on their careers after baseball, Jones focuses on the positives to his otherwise sub-par season.
\r\n
\r\n\"Probably the changeup and just some little things to my mechanics,\" Jones mentioned as some things that he has done well in '05. \"I'm trying to get the most out of my body. But probably the changeup is a pitch that I've spent the most time on this year. I've been using two different grips and the one I used the last month or two is the one I think I made the most strides with.\"
\r\n
\r\nStill, when opposing batters are hitting .323 off of you for an entire season, things just are not going according to plan. So what was the reason that Jones, who gave up just one more hit than inning pitched in '04, surprisingly gave up 43 more hits than innings pitched this past year?
\r\n
\r\n\"I got in a bad habit of pulling off and not staying through the pitch,\" a humbled Jones revealed. \"We watch video tapes a lot and that's one thing I see going on. When you're in the game you don't want to think about mechanics so its all about repetition so when you're in a game you've done it enough so that you can stay on the pitch and throw it through. I'm kind of cutting off and pulling off which caused me to leave the ball up over the plate, which caused me to give up a lot of hits this year. I left the ball up quite a bit.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"For me it is mechanical,\" Jones continued to analyze. \"I think in this league, or AA or AAA, or whatever league, if you leave the ball up, these hitters are too good to not drive the ball somewhere. Whatever the case, if you leave the ball up, they're going to hit it.\"
\r\n
\r\nWorking on his mechanics has been a big key to his development this past season, not only to work on his pitch location, but to harness a little more pop to his fastball.
\r\n
\r\n\"He [Pitching Coordinator Nardi Contreras] wants me to throw harder,\" the big, right-handed pitcher told us. \"I've been more concentrated on aiming the ball and hitting my spots rather than just sometimes letting it loose. He's trying to get me to throw harder. He wants me to use my lower body more to try and use what I've got.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"Even that's come along a little this year. In the beginning of the year my stride was real short. The first thing he did when he came in was lengthen my stride to get me closer to the plate. Its little things like that he he's tried to tweak.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile nobody expects Jones to become a blazing fireball pitcher any time soon, Nardi Contreras and the Yankees are just trying to get Jones to be more consistent with his fastball, just a little bit faster.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've been in the 88 to low 90's, even topping out at 92 MPH one game this year, nothing consistent though,\" said Jones. \"I'd like to be consistently throwing 90 MPH. I think I have that capability. He [Nardi] is just trying to get my potential out. He thinks, and I agree with him, that I have more that I can produce. He's just trying to get the most out of me.\"
\r\n
\r\nDespite his disappointing statistics in 2005, Jason Jones realizes that progress was still made. So much so, in fact, that Jones hasn't ruled out the possibility of still moving up to AA-Trenton for the 2006 season.
\r\n
\r\n\"Of course I'd like to be moving up next year,\" Jones told PinstripesPlus.com. \"And of course I don't think being back here [in Tampa] would necessarily be a bad thing. It would give me the opportunity to work on some things. But I think I have made some advances and would feel comfortable pitching at the next level. I've made some strides with my changeup. But coming up in the offseason, and working down in the Instructional Leagues, and then coming into Spring Training next year, I think I could have a chance. I'd like to be in AA.\"
\r\n
\r\nBaseball is about making adjustments and playing with confidence. Despite what many would call terrible numbers, Jason Jones not only looks at the positives, but is seemingly more confident that he ever has been.
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