Orioles prospect Jahmai Jones credits his father and former NFL linebacker, Andre Jones, for the person and baseball player he is today. When Jahmai was growing up, his father pushed him to be the best athlete he could be, encouraging him to try a variety of sports and finish out each season.
Andre played at Notre Dame from 1987-1990, winning the national title in 1988, and played for the Detroit Lions in 1992. He passed away at the age of 42 due to a brain aneurysm in 2011, right before Jahmai began high school.
After his father’s passing, Jahmai gravitated toward baseball to help him cope with the pain associated with his dad’s death, calling the game a “safe haven.” Throughout the years, Jahmai continued to play each game for his father and strives to improve for him.
“With Father’s Day [June 20], there’s a little bit of sadness coming with it,” Jones said on Glenn Clark Radio June 18. “But at the same time, I know he’s watching over me, hasn’t missed a game since. Just because he’s not in the stands doesn’t mean he’s not always with me.”
The 23-year-old Jones produced a solid start to the 2021 season with Triple-A Norfolk. Playing mostly second base, Jones has hit .351/.449/.622 with four home runs and 19 RBIs entering play June 24, though he has missed time with an oblique strain. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound right-handed hitter knows he’s competing with and against players at Triple-A who he’ll see again in the majors, which has allowed him to improve his game.
While playing in a competitive atmosphere, the Roswell, Ga., native chooses to remain focused on the present rather than the future, believing that will allow him to adequately prepare for any obstacle he may face.
“No matter what happens, I just got to continue playing my game and things will fall into place where they should,” Jones said. “I try not to get too consumed with, ‘I should be going up,’ or, ‘I shouldn’t be going up,’ or who’s playing well. If I’m in the lineup, that’s all I’m focused on for that day.”
Jones attributes his focused mentality to his childhood, having grown up around several competitive athletes. Jones’ brother, T.J., played college football at Notre Dame and later played for the Lions and New York Giants.
“The biggest thing going throughout any season is that you’re understanding that you’re fighting yourself constantly — when you’re going well, trying not to get too high, and when you’re going bad, trying not to get too low and trying to stay this even-keeled person throughout the season but understanding that you have this quiet confidence to go about yourself knowing that anytime I step out on the field, I can impact the game.”
The Orioles acquired Jones in a deal that sent right handed pitcher Alex Cobb to the Los Angeles Angels in February 2021. Jones explained that the trade came as a shock to him, as he was drafted out of high school by Los Angeles in 2015 and made his big-league debut with the organization in 2020.
Aside from having to navigate the challenges of a pandemic, Jones has also had to become accustomed to new teammates and coaches after leaving behind a comfortable environment with the Angels.
Regardless, Jones feels happy that a team wanted him. He will embrace any challenge that may be thrown in his direction.
“The only thing I have to do is just continue doing what I’m good at and learning from everybody that’s in any organization,” Jones said. “There’s so many good minds and good players over here that I haven’t been around, so for me to be put into an environment surrounded by that, it just allows me to grow even more as a player and a person.”
For now, Jones is ecstatic for the coming years and to be part of an organization that is rebuilding.
“The fact that I get to be a part of something like this early in my career is exciting,” Jones said. “It definitely adds extra excitement when you see the lower levels doing well, when you see successes on your own team and the successes throughout the entire organization. They’ve made a lot of trades, a lot of moves and brought in a lot of good players that I’m really excited to play with and excited to see what happens in the future.”
For more from Jones, watch the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Les Treagus