Sports are in Jahmai Jones blood. His late dad, Andre, was a public hero linebacker at Notre Dame who proceeded to play for the Detroit Lions. One of his more established siblings, T.J., emulated Andre’s example at Notre Dame, at that point played wide collector for six seasons for the Lions and New York Giants.
Another more seasoned sibling, Malachi, played Division I football for Appalachian State University, the Canadian Football League and a few expert field classes. His more youthful sister, Jayla, is a lesser Olympian in equestrian.
“I’ve definitely had a lot of influence from them from a young age,” Jones said Wednesday from Orioles Spring Training in Sarasota, Fla. “I really do think it helped me figure out who I wanted to be as a person, being immersed in a football environment.”
One of the exercises Jones eventually scholarly was that, notwithstanding cherishing football, baseball was his actual way. For this, the Orioles are thankful. The very capacity that made Jones a triple-sport competitor growing up were what the O’s focused on when they procured Jones from the Angels for Alex Cobb and huge compensation alleviation toward the beginning of February, adding a flexible, major class prepared possibility to their nearby infield blend. Jones, who appeared a lot in three games for the Angels a year ago, is a changed over outfielder the O’s are seeing basically as a second baseman.
“We believe in the athleticism,” O’s manager Brandon Hyde said. “He has big tools and moves well. … We’re going to give him a long look.”
A previous MLB Pipeline Top 100 possibility, Jones is an alternate kind of blue-lively than the Orioles had recently focused during their modify. Of the more than one dozen possibilities procured by leader VP and senior supervisor Mike Elias through exchange in the course of the last two schedule years, Jones isn’t the most noteworthy appraised. Be that as it may, he may be the most cleaned and is positively the first to show up at Spring Training with an opportunity at breaking the Opening Day list.
Regardless of whether he starts the year at Triple-A, it’s not hard imagining Jones filling in as a right-gave supplement to Yolmer Sánchez at a respectable halfway point or flexible seat alternative eventually this season.
For Jones, that is approval enough that the choice he made in secondary school to stop football and spotlight on baseball was the right one. It was difficult or expected at that point. Jones was gifted on the field like his dad and siblings, getting 12 scores for Wesleyan High School in Norcross, Ga., as a rookie. Yet, he continued inclining toward the baseball field, particularly after Andre’s surprising demise of a mind aneurysm at age 42 shook the Jones family. Jahmai was 14.
“Everybody was expecting me to play football, to do what the family did,” Jones said. “If I ever felt stressed, I wanted to do something baseball related. I wanted to go hit. I wanted to go take ground balls. I wanted to just be around the game, so I made the decision to stop playing football in high school. After talking with my family, everybody was on board. People in my community didn’t agree with it, they didn’t see why I was doing this. And I didn’t really care.
I didn’t need everybody to see what I saw. I didn’t need everybody to believe in me, because I knew at the end of the day, this is what I wanted to do. This was where I put all my focus and time and effort into. If they weren’t on the metaphorical train, then they’re getting left behind.
“I felt like if I played football, I’d constantly be compared to my brothers. My identity would be lost in the mix. I wanted to make my own identity in this world.”
Acknowledgment came rather rapidly. Jones bloomed into a second-balance pick of Wesleyan in 2015, renouncing a grant to the University of North Carolina to sign with the Angels for $1.1 million. He showed well right on time prior to blowing some people’s minds with a breakout season in ’17, procuring Jones the Angels’ Minor League Player of the Year respects. His numbers dropped with a full-time change to a respectable halfway point and an advancement to Double-An in ’18, however he played very well in the Arizona Fall League in both ’18 and ’19, against seemingly the top rivalry in the Minor Leagues.
That stood apart more to the Orioles than Jones’ irregularity at Double-A, as did his in addition to cosmetics and athletic roots. Presently, Jones’ kin say he was continually going to pick baseball, that it involved “when” and not “if.” The equivalent could be said for when he will affect the Orioles.
“I had all their support, and that was really all I needed,” Jones said. “Ultimately, I made the decision and thankfully I’m here, so I think it paid off just a little bit so far.”