Jahmai Jones finally got his much-anticipated promotion to the Orioles Aug. 23, and he’s trying to show the club he can be the full-time second baseman moving forward.
Jones, 24, has appeared in three games since then and tallied the first extra-base hit of his career when he doubled down the left-field line in the third inning in a 13-1 victory against the Angels Aug. 26. The 6-foot, 210-pound infielder has managed a pair of hits in his first 13 at-bats, and manager Brandon Hyde is going to give him every opportunity to succeed.
“I think that anytime young players come with energy, it’s positive,” Hyde said. “We’re scuffling and we’re in a tough spot right now, and hopefully Jam can give us a little jumpstart and give our club some energy and play well. That would be huge for us.”
Jones already had experience as a major-league player before he was acquired by the Orioles from the Angels in exchange for right-handed pitcher and oft-injured Alex Cobb on Feb. 2, 2021.
He appeared in three games across two stints with Los Angeles in 2020. Jones was a second-round pick (70th overall) by the Angels in the 2015 MLB Draft.
“I was surrounded by a lot of great players — Anthony Rendon, Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Jared Walsh, Justin Upton — I could go on for days,” Jones said about his experience with the Angels. “I was constantly surrounded by a lot of great minds in that locker room. I was trying to be professional and ultimately win — that’s the goal of any big-league club. Regardless of if you have a good or bad night, if the team gets a win everybody is happy.
“Not many people are able to say they played with a future Hall of Famer in Albert Pujols, another future Hall of Famer in Trout and maybe Ohtani if he continues what he’s doing this year throughout the rest of his career. For me just to be around them and several other amazing players, was something special. I was glad I had the opportunity to be up there.”
Prior to 2021, Jones’ last full season came in 2019 with Double-A Mobile. He played in a career-high 130 games and led Mobile in runs scored (66) and tied for first in triples (3). He finished second on the club in hits (113), doubles (22), RBIs (50), stolen bases (9) and walks (50). Later in the year, he played for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League and slashed .302/.377/.509.
He was the Angels’ Minor League Player of the Year in 2017 after hitting .282/.348/.446 (146-for-518) with 29 doubles, seven triples, 14 home runs, 86 runs, 47 RBIs and 27 stolen bases in a combined 127 games between Low-A Burlington and High-A Inland Empire.
After he was acquired from the Angels, Jones was assigned to Triple-A Norfolk. He adapted quickly to the Orioles organization.
“I love every minute of it,” Jones said. “They are a great group of mentors. They are a great group of people that have surrounded me. We have a lot of talent here. I’m definitely excited and I have been nothing short of being happy to be here.”
Jones was hampered by an oblique injury earlier this season at Triple-A Norfolk but was one of the team’s most productive hitters when healthy. He batted .238/.329/.417 with 10 homers and 35 RBIs in 69 games with the Tides. He played 52 games at second base, 11 in left and one in center.
“Just staying within myself and doing the things that I do well,” Jones said. “I’m trying to keep things very simple. The biggest thing is trying not to get too high or too low. You’re hitting the ball hard but right at people or you’re getting the hits. Just stay even-keeled.”
The Orioles traded shortstop Freddy Galvis to the Philadelphia Phillies at the deadline and recently designated third baseman Maikel Franco for assignment, which hastened Jones’ promotion to the major-league club.
Now, the goal is to stay with the team and expedite the rebuilding process.
“I loved playing in Norfolk and I loved the guys that I was centered around and the coaching staff down there, so it was a lot of fun being there,” Jones said. “But ultimately, I wanted to be here, so definitely glad I got the call.”
Photo Credit: Colin Murphy/PressBox