Simplifying Approach Pays Off For Braves' Mycal Jones





ATLANTA—Mycal Jones is the first to admit that it would have been difficult to have had a worse start than the one he endured earlier this season at low Class A Rome.

The Braves' fourth-round pick in 2009 had a strong professional debut with Rookie-level Danville last year by leading the Appalachian League with 50 runs and six triples. The start of his first full campaign, however, was a nightmare, with the Miami-Dade CC product hitting just .125/.157/.188 in his first 19 games against South Atlantic League competition.

"It was definitely a tough time," Jones said. "I kept wondering what in the world was going on. I knew I was a better hitter than what I was showing, but it went on for what seemed like forever."

As the slump persisted, Jones, 23, went to work with Rome hitting coach Bobby Moore, who suggested that Jones get back to what he was doing in spring training. Turns out, Jones was trying to make too many adjustments too often, which created havoc with his mechanics. His return to the basics paid quick dividends, with Jones hitting .352/.398/.523 in May before going 11-for-31 with three homers and eight RBIs in eight June contests prior to receiving a promotion to high Class A Myrtle Beach. He was hitting .270/.321/.403 in 382 at-bats between the two levels.

"I've always been able to hit," Jones said. "Once I got back in my comfort zone with my stance and everything else, the hits started to fall. I feel like I learned something during that time. Now I'm just focusing on minimizing slumps when they happen by maintaining my mechanics."

Jones has plus-plus speed and outstanding all-around athleticism that allows him to be productive while hitting first or second in the lineup. He has worked hard on his baserunning in order to get better jumps on steal attempts, during which he successfully swiped 16 of his first 22 tries.

The Braves also believe the 5-foot-10, 165-pound Jones has the quick-twitch muscles and range to remain at shortstop, even though his arm strength is considered average with high-effort mechanics. While he committed 37 errors in his first four months, most of those have come on throws when trying to do too much.

Wigwam Wisps

• The Braves continued to be aggressive with righthander Julio Teheran, who was promoted from Myrtle Beach to Double-A Mississippi after opening the season at Rome. He was 6-6, 2.28 overall, with 121 strikeouts in 103 innings.

• Lefthander Mike Minor had a strong first month in Triple-A by going 4-1, 1.99 in his first five starts at Gwinnett. The 22-year-old was 6-7, 3.41 in 119 innings overall between Gwinnett and Mississippi.