Jones Again Finds His Groove in Charleston

The start of the baseball season is one of the most vital aspects for an individual position player's year. He doesn't have to begin the season by batting .400, but if he is hitting less than his weight by May-day, he's certainly digging himself a deep hole.

Not only does he have to climb out of this hole by consistently hitting all of a sudden, but usually their opportunities dwindle due to a drop in at-bats. For a hitter, it is imperative that they find that first groove, just as Ben Jones has now done.

It's a shame Jones had to find it in Charleston rather than Tampa. After being so successful in Charleston last season, batting .288 with 64 runs and 77 RBI, he began this season with the high-A Tampa Yankees.

But Jones struggled to find that same success early this season, batting .125 in just 40 at bats. He was struggling to find plate appearances behind hot-hitting Cody Ehlers, his Riverdogs' teammate a year ago. The Yankees organization decided to send Jones back to Charleston on May 6th, and he has finally found that groove batting .361in 36 at-bats in the South Atlantic League.

"I don't really see it as a demotion," Jones explained. "Cody [Ehlers] was swinging the bat so well, I couldn't get any at-bats. There's an opportunity to play everyday in Charleston, but hopefully I'll be back there [Tampa] soon."

"It's been tough on him because he had a heck of a year last year [in Charleston] and now he is back," Charleston Manager Bill Mosiello said of Jones. "He's handled things tremendously. At least here he knows he is going to play every day. They sent him here to have that chance. I think he is real happy to be here playing rather than not playing in Tampa."

After playing for the RiverDogs last year and being so successful in doing so, Jones feels some level of comfort in coming back this season.

"I am familiar with the town and the ball park," the 6-3 first baseman told PinstripesPlus.com. "The pitching is the same for the most part. The style is a bit different. You're going to see more breaking balls and changeups during hitter's counts in high-A, especially in a pitcher's league like the Florida State League."

It's not much of a surprise that Jones has done so well once given a consistent opportunity to play every day. He added 10 pounds in the off-season while working out with a strength coach. He woke up at 5 a.m. every day in his hometown of Marion, Louisiana.

"He's very consistent," Mosiello explained. "Whether he has gone 0-for-4 or 4-for-4, he brings the same approach to the game everyday. He's a great kid, the type of guy that doesn't say much but leads by example on the field."

"He's a great teammate to have," said second baseman Mario Holmann, who played with Jones in Charleston last season. "He's got a lot of experience that we can learn from. He is a quiet guy but a great hitter."

Though Jones has been raking Sally League pitching so far, he sees weaknesses in his game that he needs to work on.

"I'm a big right-center gap hitter, so I am trying to work on pulling the ball a little to the left-center gap," the Louisiana-Monroe product explained. "I'm also working on trying to be explosive with my lower half, trying to hit some more home runs. In the field, I'm always working on getting quicker, agility-wise."

On Wednesday night, with the RiverDogs trailing 2-0 to the Savannah Sand Gnats in the bottom of the 6th, Jones drilled a towering three-run homer on a 2-2 count over the left field fence.

If Jones keeps hitting this well in Charleston and an opportunity opens in Tampa for him to consistently get at-bats, then don't expect Jones to be a RiverDog much longer. But until then, the Yankees want to keep him on the field and at the plate, no matter what level.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n\r\n\r\nNot only does he have to climb out of this hole by consistently hitting all of a sudden, but usually their opportunities dwindle due to a drop in at-bats. For a hitter, it is imperative that they find that first groove, just as Ben Jones has now done.
\r\n
\r\nIt's a shame Jones had to find it in Charleston rather than Tampa. After being so successful in Charleston last season, batting .288 with 64 runs and 77 RBI, he began this season with the high-A Tampa Yankees.
\r\n
\r\nBut Jones struggled to find that same success early this season, batting .125 in just 40 at bats. He was struggling to find plate appearances behind hot-hitting Cody Ehlers, his Riverdogs' teammate a year ago. The Yankees organization decided to send Jones back to Charleston on May 6th, and he has finally found that groove batting .361in 36 at-bats in the South Atlantic League.
\r\n
\r\n\"I don't really see it as a demotion,\" Jones explained. \"Cody [Ehlers] was swinging the bat so well, I couldn't get any at-bats. There's an opportunity to play everyday in Charleston, but hopefully I'll be back there [Tampa] soon.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"It's been tough on him because he had a heck of a year last year [in Charleston] and now he is back,\" Charleston Manager Bill Mosiello said of Jones. \"He's handled things tremendously. At least here he knows he is going to play every day. They sent him here to have that chance. I think he is real happy to be here playing rather than not playing in Tampa.\"
\r\n
\r\nAfter playing for the RiverDogs last year and being so successful in doing so, Jones feels some level of comfort in coming back this season.
\r\n
\r\n\"I am familiar with the town and the ball park,\" the 6-3 first baseman told PinstripesPlus.com. \"The pitching is the same for the most part. The style is a bit different. You're going to see more breaking balls and changeups during hitter's counts in high-A, especially in a pitcher's league like the Florida State League.\"
\r\n
\r\nIt's not much of a surprise that Jones has done so well once given a consistent opportunity to play every day. He added 10 pounds in the off-season while working out with a strength coach. He woke up at 5 a.m. every day in his hometown of Marion, Louisiana.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's very consistent,\" Mosiello explained. \"Whether he has gone 0-for-4 or 4-for-4, he brings the same approach to the game everyday. He's a great kid, the type of guy that doesn't say much but leads by example on the field.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"He's a great teammate to have,\" said second baseman Mario Holmann, who played with Jones in Charleston last season. \"He's got a lot of experience that we can learn from. He is a quiet guy but a great hitter.\"
\r\n
\r\nThough Jones has been raking Sally League pitching so far, he sees weaknesses in his game that he needs to work on.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm a big right-center gap hitter, so I am trying to work on pulling the ball a little to the left-center gap,\" the Louisiana-Monroe product explained. \"I'm also working on trying to be explosive with my lower half, trying to hit some more home runs. In the field, I'm always working on getting quicker, agility-wise.\"
\r\n
\r\nOn Wednesday night, with the RiverDogs trailing 2-0 to the Savannah Sand Gnats in the bottom of the 6th, Jones drilled a towering three-run homer on a 2-2 count over the left field fence.
\r\n
\r\nIf Jones keeps hitting this well in Charleston and an opportunity opens in Tampa for him to consistently get at-bats, then don't expect Jones to be a RiverDog much longer. But until then, the Yankees want to keep him on the field and at the plate, no matter what level.
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