Jahmai Jones has gotten a taste of the major leagues, and it’s an experience he won’t forget.
He appeared in three games across two stints with the Los Angeles Angels in 2020, and he hopes he’s about to get another opportunity with the Orioles. Jones was a second-round pick (70th overall) by Los Angeles in the 2015 Major League Baseball 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.”
Jones’ last full season was in 2019 with Double-A Mobile. He played in a career-high 130 games. He led Mobile in runs scored (66), tied for first in triples (3), and finished second on the club in hits (113), doubles (22), RBIs (50), stolen bases (9), and walks (50). The following season, he played for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League and slashed .302/.377/.509.
Jones was the Angels Minor League Player of the Year in 2017 after hitting .282/.348/.446 (146-for-518) with 29 doubles, 7 triples, 14 home runs, 86 runs, 47 RBIs, and 27 stolen bases in a combined 127 games between Class-A Burlington and Class-A-Advanced Inland Empire.
Jones was acquired by the Orioles from Los Angeles in exchange for right-handed pitcher Alex Cobb on February 2, 2021.
“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 had an oblique injury earlier this season at Triple-A Norfolk but is healthy and one of the team’s most productive hitters. He is batting .257 with 9 homers and 21 RBIs in 42 games. He has played 40 games at second base, a position he’s trying to learn, and he’s also played left field.
“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.”
On Friday, the Orioles traded shortstop Freddy Galvis to the Phillies, which could hasten Jones’ promotion to the club. His focus is helping Norfolk win games and is confident in the process of Orioles general manager Mike Elias.
When the time comes to play at Camden Yards, he said he’ll be ready.
“I invested fully in the plan the Orioles have for me,” Jones said. “I’ll be ready and I’ll be excited about the opportunity. I know they have a plan put in place. I’m not trying to think about [a promotion] that much. I am just really trying to win in Norfolk right now.”
Heating up: Low-A Delmarva outfielder Lamar Sparks was improving through the month of July, slashing .253/.321/.421 with 3 homers, 3 doubles, 2 triples and 12 RBIs. Last week against Lynchburg, Sparks, a fifth-round pick in 2017, went 11-for-26 (.423) with a .500 on-base percentage with two doubles and a homer.
Struggling pitchers: Right-hander Konner Wade was the only pitcher for the Norfolk Tides with an ERA below 4.50, going 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA (three earned runs, 18 innings) in the past month.
Wade, who had a one-game trial with the Orioles on June 26th when he allowed six runs on seven hits in 1 2/3 innings, started off August well for the Tides. Wade allowed two runs on five hits in five innings on Sunday in Norfolk’s 5-3 win over Durham.
Left-hander Kevin Smith led the team in strikeouts with 23 in 16 2/3 innings pitched.
Stowers stays hot: In 27 games in July, Double-A Bowie outfielder Kyle Stowers hit .340 with 7 home runs, 9 doubles, 15 RBIs, 17 runs scored, and 34 hits. Stowers, the Orioles’ second-round pick in 2019, is the only Bowie batter who played more than two games in July and has a batting average above .300 for the month. His OPS for the month is 1.035.