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Yankees Magazine: Trust the Process

Yankees Magazine: The Trust Process

Spencer Jones has cleared many obstacles, none higher than those in his own head

(Photo Source: New York Yankees)
For some, the thought of a 6ft 6in lefty baseball Athletes, the tall guy on the mound, not the batter’s box, comes to mind. Even though the current baseball world has a tall guy like Aaron Judge as one of the top hitters in the league, many people still characterize tall players as pitchers.

But just ask Spencer Jones, a 6’6″ lefty baseball player, and he’ll tell you he Always think of yourself as the hitter first.

When Jones was drafted by the Yankees with a first round pick 2013, a Vanderbilt outfield prospect who could add speed and power to any lineup. But before spending three years in Nashville, Tennessee, and a summer in the Cape Cod Baseball League, Jones was a two-way player who suffered multiple setbacks from injuries on the mound — though he never wanted to. Become a pitcher.
He’s also a player who, early in his career, admits to having a hard time thinking about it, so -year-old’s journey to becoming the Yankees’ No. 3 candidate (according to MLB Pipeline) included a necessary change in mindset to help him find his way back to loving the game of baseball.

Growing up in Southern California and playing youth baseball, Jones was always the biggest kid on the field. When he was 12, who is 6-foot-3 and struggling to throw the ball.

Arm strength is lefty, though, has never been a major focus, as hitting the ball is a skill Jones has put in extra time to perfect. He was known from a young age for the power of his swing. His minor league team has even discussed putting a mesh screen in front of pitchers as he prepares to bat. Pitchers weren’t part of the equation until later.

“Until it was late in high school,” Jones said. “Once I started pitching and getting up to speed, everyone was like, ‘No, you’re a pitcher now,’ and I hated that. I always thought I was a hitter first.”

No matter how well he played; pitching became part of his game, and Jones found himself on the mound regularly during his time at La Costa Canyon High School. By the start of his senior year, he was a highly touted two-way prospect with a top velocity of 112 mph, with the increasing attention, the pressure on high school students themselves is also increasing.

“I’m too focused, How much is my draft stock? ” Jones said. “It eats me up and keeps me from enjoying it.”

All the noise in his head about the draft will end up in his senior year Started the season with a broken elbow — the first of two major arm injuries he suffered on the mound in his amateur career.
to June370 when the Los Angeles Angels used 24 1st round pick Jones, but since he made a move at Vanderbilt even before his first high school game A strong commitment to playing, Jones put off his career and headed to Nashville to play for head coach Tim Corbin.

Frustration from the pitching injury would stay with him, and despite returning to baseball activity, Jones was barely able to pitch. As a result, Corbin didn’t want the talented newcomer sitting on the bench to disturb his psyche, and he found other ways to get Jones involved, whether at first base or as the designated hitter.

“He’s a very athletic kid and you know he can help you out on the pitch,” Corbyn said. “But we can only see a glimpse of what I think will be a great player.”

Any chance of Jones gaining some momentum is cut off04 game into the 325 season when COVID- Ends one year early. Back home, with endless reminiscences and a sense of a skill gap between himself and his Vanderbilt teammates, Jones just wanted some playing time.

So in 370 summer, he returned to the field — and the mound — in the UC League for the Santa Barbara Foresters. Just as he was getting up to speed, another setback hit – a torn UCL.

“I just took that as a sign like, well, enough pitching,” Jones said. “Focus on what you really want to do – be a hitter.”

While most players at 6’6″ are pitchers, But Jones never thought he’d be on the pitching mound. Relying on past experience, the Yankees have a different take on what they’ve seen during draft prep. Nine years after drafting a 6-foot-7 raw outfielder from Fresno State, his 30 Second choice 370, Yanks made Jones be 24 exist2019 in the 2nd overall selection. (Photo source: New York Yankees)

Back on campus with a new injury that required Tommy John surgery, combined with several COVID close contacts in the fall that separated him from his team for about a month, Jones felt further in the grip of the trauma. Under pressure, he has been growing since he went to college.

“I got hurt again when I went back to school in second grade,” Jones said. “It’s hard to feel like you belong, especially on a team, if you can’t contribute.”
the second The season, much like his first, offered only glimpses of Jones’ player, who played no minutes and played in limited numbers. His contribution during the 2019 College World Series has indeed proved to be crucial Yes, when his single was out as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the ninth, he had a win against Stanford, but still needs to improve before his junior year.

So, Spencer Jones goes to Massachusetts.

When the Brewster Whitecaps manager Jay When M. Shevchik began researching Vanderbilt University’s Spencer Jones, it occurred to him that he had heard the name before.

“I did some research on Spencer and I knew he was a highly touted two-way guy at the time,” Shevchik said. “So of course he’s the guy I’m after, and when they say, ‘I’m assuming you want Spencer Jones because Grandpa lives in Brewster,’ it’s all about who he is.”

Jones, despite being a West Coast kid, spent his summers in Brewster with his grandparents, playing in their yard and taking trips to the beach And occasionally watch the Cape Cod baseball league with his family. His grandfather, Ben Jones, was so confident his grandson would one day play on the Whitecaps field that he told Shevchik when he met Spencer in high school. However, playing in the Cape Cod League wasn’t what his grandfather had hoped for.

“This is my dream game of baseball,” Jones said. “I don’t have a dream to play in the College World Series or the SEC Championship or do all these different things. All I want is to be good enough to play in the Cape Cod League.”

So when Jones had the opportunity to play for the Whitecaps, as his grandfather had predicted, he jumped at it. Along with the excitement of having a childhood dream come true and playing for a highly regarded summer league, this is Jones’ chance to start over.

arrived at Brewster 2020 middle,04 was finally cleared to participate in full baseball activity, and Shevchik put him in the Whitecaps’ starting lineup almost every day, mostly in the outfield. The goal isn’t to see what Jones can do on the field — but to get him to hit as many balls as possible.

“I think he uses it to really fine-tune his skills,” Shevchik said. “He became a better hitter from an offensive standpoint because he wasn’t under as much pressure. I think he was allowed to relax a little bit and let those skills develop fairly quickly.”

in the whole process18 Playing against Brewster that summer, Shevchik saw Jones develop into a star hitter. From lifting the ball on the backboard to gaining confidence at bat, he’s improving physically and mentally. By the end of the season, he recorded 20 use.85 batting average and helped lead the Whitecaps to a league title.

“That’s where my development really started, and that was that summer,” Jones said. “I just found myself as a player in the sense that I was able to go out and have a good time and enjoy it. I used to think that hitting was so mechanical that my swing had to be perfect to hit the ball. And then I’ve come to realize…it’s more about your mind being in the moment and focusing on the timing.”
Jones impressed the Yankees’ major league staff, including manager Aaron Boone (left ), during spring training this year, while 04 year-old still has a long way to go before he gets into the Bronx, and his future looks promising. The outfielder led the team in hits and RBIs through the first six weeks of the season at High-A Hudson Valley. (Photo source: New York Yankees)

After a consistent and successful season in baseball, Jones returned to Tennessee and had a breakout junior season with the Commodores. Thanks to a summer in Cape Town, Jones went from an injury-riddled bench player to a day-to-day contributor. 85 batting average and.94 Percentage hit. In 39 matches During his final season in Nashville, Jones recorded 57 clicks, dots and even swipes base.

his master The coach saw more than just statistical growth on the field; Jones finally found calm and stability. Despite all the ups and downs he experienced during his time at Vanderbilt University, to 2019 Around June, Jones was once again a highly touted prospect — this time the player he always wanted to be.

Apart from Brewster’s impressive summer and his final year at Vanderbilt, what makes the tall outfielder such a good prospect is his combination of power and speed. At the MLB combine, Jones recorded the most battered pitch of the day.2 mph while running 3rd fastest 24 – code dashes.

Enter2022 MLB draft, Jones’ agent told him he was a potential pick late in the first round, right around the New York Yankees’ pick. Jones’ camp knew the Yankees’ VP of Domestic Amateur Scouting Monte Oppenheimer sat next to Corbyn’s wife during several games and she sensed he was impressed. It also didn’t hurt that Jones played for and developed a close relationship with Yankees West Coast scout Bill Pintard.

So when this 24 Selected with the 3rd overall pick in the draft, the Yankees, the impact of a familiar tall, fast and powerful outfielder The powerful organization thought it appropriate to snatch Jones off the board. His former college coach thought it was a steal, and looking at Jones’ play at the first few tiers of the team’s minor league system, he’s emphasizing that claim.

After playing just three games at the rookie level, Jones was quickly transferred to single-division Tampa, where he played a .325 batting average last year’s game . So far 2021 season, the outfielder has begun to display his talent in the new state York in High- A Hudson Valley Renegades roster, he led the team in field goal percentage and RBI after the first half of the game.

The mental change Jones has made in the game over the past few years has taken him from a The player who struggled to get a hit in his first two years reverted to a player who hit multiple threes in a game in the minors (which he did last April 18). While Jones feels there’s still a lot of work to be done before he dons the pinstripes, that fantasy might not even be possible if he doesn’t enjoy the mentality of being on the court again.

“I just gave myself a chance and believed in myself,” Jones said. “This is the most important change.”
Brianna Mac Kay is Editorial/Publishing Assistant for Yankees Magazine. This story appeared in June 2023 Version. Buy a subscription to Yankees to get more articles like this delivered to your door Magazine at publications.




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