Impressive actually isn’t a strong enough word. On the field, Jahmai Jones sits atop Angels prospect rankings and is climbing national lists with speed and raw athleticism to burn.
But away from the field Jones is a very candid, down to earth guy whose insight and maturity far outpace his 19 years of age.
If your kids chose Jahmai Jones as their favorite player, you should be very happy.
I recently spoke with Jahmai on a couple of occasions and here is a transcript of that talk.
So you just got done brushing your teeth and getting ready to head to the ballpark. What is a normal day like for you right now?
“Right now, I wake up, maybe hang out for a little bit depending on what time I fell asleep the previous night. I’ll wake up, usually eat, then head to the field where I’ll get there probably an hour and a half before we have early hitting in the cage.
Then I’ll get my stretching, go hit in the cage, then go stretch out on the field which will then lead to all our early work. Defensive work, full BP, everything.
Then I’ll head inside. We’ll usually have about an hour and a half before the game and I’ll kind of unwind. Then I’ll take about another 15 swings in the cage, get changed up, and get ready for the game.”
Man, that is a lot of work. This is your first full season of professional baseball. Are you doing anything to pace yourself for 400 at bats or are you just going at it and seeing how you feel day by day?
“It’s definitely a day by day thing. I feel like you have to give 100% of what you have each day. Whether that be 70% that day, you give all that 70% or if you feel a little better another day you give 100% of what you have that day.
When you wake up feeling 95-100% it is a lot easier. I’m just taking it day by day. The greatest thing is waking up every day I know it is the start of a new day. New game, new at bats, new pitcher and that’s the beauty of the game.
Whether I had a great day at the plate or a great day on defense I know I can wake up tomorrow and try to continue that. Or, if I had a bad day at the plate or on the field I know that tomorrow is a new day which brings me an opportunity to succeed and do everything I can for our team to get a win.
So every day is just a new opportunity and a new adventure, honestly. You never know what the day is going to hold and that’s the beauty of the game.”
So while you are doing all this extra work before the games, are the coaches working with you on a specific offensive approach or to be a lead off hitter? What are the coaches really emphasizing to you right now?
“From a defensive or a hitting standpoint?”
“Making sure I hit my cutoff man, making sure I hit all my throws; making sure I do the little things right. That’s the biggest thing because that could lead to a man moving up one base and that’s the end of it. Instead of a man ending up on first, he’s on second and next thing you know a little bloop falls in and a run scores versus keeping him at first. If you have first and third with two outs you can still get out of it without a run being scored.
And on the offensive side the main thing is just getting my pitch. Making sure that every night I go up there knowing that I want my pitch and where I want it, where I want to hit is as well. Those are the biggest things.
Remaining calm at the plate knowing that it is my at bat. It’s not the pitcher’s at bat, it’s not the fielders at bat, it is my at bat. Knowing that I can do damage if I relax and select my pitch.”
That’s great. Obviously your speed and athleticism were a big reason you were drafted where you were. Do you pretty much have a permanent green light to steal when you get on base or do the coaches really dictate the running game?
“They don’t dictate the running game. I mean, depending on the player and the situation, it’s definitely different for everybody, but they definitely want me to go as much as I can when I get on.
And when I get on I just want to make sure the situation is right with regards to who is hitting, making sure the score is right, outs are right, situation is right.
I’ll leave, then, on a good pitch and/or get a good fastball for my hitter to hit so that if I so break he can still hit it in a gap and I can try and score.
So there’s a little more than just getting on and going but that’s kind of the preference.”
Regarding your athleticism, do you think playing multiple sports in high school helped build a more rounded athlete so that when you decided to focus on one sport you’d be better prepared to succeed?
“I think it does. I definitely enjoyed playing multiple sports in high school and I think that leads to different things you do in each sport. Every single sport you take a little from that sport and you bring it to another.
And that’s what makes the game so different for everybody; that everyone is from different backgrounds, different sports, and you mix it all together and you find out what works for you, specifically.
On my personal side I can take the intensity, the edge from football onto the baseball field. It’s known as a calm game and everything but I like the adrenaline and I like just the overall concept of football being such a hard hitting, go at me sport.
I feel like baseball can be played the same way and I love playing it that way. I love going after balls trying to get everything, trying to damage at the plate, really just trying to pump up everybody around me so we all work better as a team. And I couldn’t do it without the other 8 guys on the field around me, the guys in the dugout.
I’m here because of the people who pushed me and the people around me, regardless of if that’s the sport of baseball, football, beach volleyball, soccer, track, everything I’ve played. Everywhere I went everybody had a different effect on me and that go me here today. Playing different sports definitely helped push me to where I am”
Whoa. You play beach volleyball?”
“We had two courts at our high school and a lot of us, during late winter or early Spring, before baseball really got started, we would go out and play quite a bit.”
Very candid, very insightful, and I’ve called dibs on him as a partner on the HB volleyball courts when he makes the 66ers then Angels.
The next segment will get into his Jahmai’s interests away from baseball, a very interesting connection he has with another Angels prospect, and how he’s adapting to small town life after growing up in Atlanta.
Please leave questions and comments in the links below. Jahmai will be sent a link and be able to read them.