So, yes, Jones was the absolute perfect person to be at Petco Park in San Diego this past weekend, speaking to potential first-round picks in the upcoming MLB 2022 Draft, as coach and guest analyst for MLB Network coverage.
“It’s like I said to them, ‘You’re in the field here and you want to play in the field, right?'” “Well, there are a few things you have to do to be able to play in the field,” Jones told Sporting News in a phone interview.
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The fact that Combine was part of MLB Network coverage speaks to Major League Baseball’s long-awaited and much-needed focus on its draft and progression to the draft. The NFL Combine has always been a major event for the sport, but this was the second MLB Combine ever. The first was last year, in Curry, North Carolina, with nearly 150 chances.
This was in the MLB arena, with over 250 potential projects attending the four-day event. Players can choose to participate in skill and performance assessments, undergo medical assessments and, perhaps most importantly, meet and interact with front office personnel they may reign over in mid-June. And it certainly didn’t hurt that baseball fans got a chance to meet some of these players through TV interviews on the MLB Network group and with analysts working on the event.
“It’s the revelation,” Jones said.
Finally, MLB is starting to treat its draft like the main event it should be. Glory. This combination wasn’t just about potential first-round picks, though, though top-10 prospects like Termarr Johnson – a high school second baseman from Atlanta – and Brooks Lee – a Cal Poly short of a team – have been involved. By the way, the Oriole has the first option. For most players in the Combine, the goal has been to open their eyes and raise their draft higher, whether it’s happening on the field or chatting with teams.
To get an inside perspective on this first-ever MLB exploratory gathering, we asked Jones about the three biggest points from the event.
1. The talent on display
Jones: “The level of talent with each generation gets better and better. The size of these kids, the maturity of these kids, the hunger they have, as well as the competitiveness and appreciation of the game and their peers. They push each other, even though they are competing for a slot, for that money, they pay Each other. I see that and I think, “That’s what it’s about.” At the end of the day, they’re going to be playing against each other, whether that’s in college or the pros.
“In that combination, the kids were showing off their sport. Like I said on the air, Buck (Shwalter, Jones manager in Baltimore) always said that if he could, he would take 50 short stops because they are the most athletic players on the team. On the majority of teams, the short player is Generally he is the most athletic person, he or the quarterback. You can make a defensive player or pitcher or whatever. These kids in the plural were very athletic. I don’t like how anyone could pack up.
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“There was the kid who had the highest exit speed in the Combine, (Spencer) Jones of Vanderbilt, kid 6-7. He went to the playground and said, ‘I want to play on the playground.’ Yes, I can play first base but I want to play on the court so that I can show my athletic abilities as well. This means he can play in the outside corner, first base and DH. Those are four points to overcome, which is the most important thing.”
2. Awareness of opportunity
Jones: “The understanding of where they were in that moment came out. They knew the eyes were on them, and they knew the world was watching them because it’s on TV, and you can see the character. I think with teams and it being a real pool, like the NFL, teams can Seeing the characters they’re about to invest a lot of money in, instead of trying to catch kids here and there.Now they’re sitting with kids in street clothes, talking to them in a casual environment, and I think that’s phenomenal..
And they were intuitive. They asked me questions like, “How was it with the minors?” I told them the truth about it, like, “You college kids, you’re about to get a low grade. You’ll go from that pretty field to, well, you’ll be wondering about things. But this is hunger…
“I’ve talked to as many players who have come through. I made myself available, went for them. I tried to have fun with them. You have to. You have to tell them and show your character. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be shy. That’s what teams look for, players who are About to invest a lot of money in them to be the leaders of their franchise, someone who wouldn’t be awkward but would be really cool and a great personality, a leader.
“I kept asking these kids, ‘Can you hit me?'” There was a kid who said, “Damn, I don’t run as fast as I want to, but I don’t care because I can hit.” He walked in and I said, “Now that’s what I want to hear!” Because at the end of the day, hitting is the name of the game.”
“This is the tip of the iceberg for these guys and their careers… All they need is an immersion in everything.”Tweet embed And the Tweet embed Discussing the second-ever MLB draft and the mindset these potential clients should use to help increase their inventory. pic.twitter.com/Ggk6fX3mc2
– MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) June 16, 2022
3. Putting MLB on a great event
Jones: “The last thing I took was the MLB involvement. It was amazing. MLB did a great job, they and the Padres. The Padres ground staff, obviously, kept the pitch in pristine condition, as they always do. But MLB understood that, ‘Look, we need to Developing our game, we need our game to get more exposure and more media coverage and they have done that. I think they implemented it and it will only increase in size. They went from 150 kids to 250 kids, he ran it really well, and the guy who ran it was Brian Graham, who used to be the manager of my farm in Baltimore, a very clean guy, really knows what he’s doing.
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“I’ve never had a Combine like this, but you can’t think of what isn’t. I didn’t care. We had tournaments, we had exhibitions. We had what we needed to show our talent, but it wasn’t that big. These guys were getting checkups. Physical, and all the MRIs and scales on their body that you wouldn’t otherwise get until you sign. And they have to keep that data as well, which is really cool and useful for them, to know their body metrics.”