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Greg Jones Enjoys Competition At Big League Camp



As a 2019 first-round pick from UNC Wilmington, Greg Jones is the junior member of the Rays’ exclusive club of talented middle infield prospects.

After getting an invite to big league camp, Jones found himself on the field with consensus top prospect Wander Franco, plus skilled prospects Vidal Brujan, Taylor Walls and Xavier Edwards as well as current big leaguers Willy Adames and Brandon Lowe.

That might seem intimidating for a 23-year-old with just 48 games of professional experience, all in the short-season New York-Penn League.

Not the case.

“It’s definitely not intimidating,’’ said Jones, a switch-hitter who stands in at 6-foot-2, 175 pounds. “I actually love it. It gives you a chance to work harder and just compete against someone.’’

Jones welcomed the opportunity to get back on the field in a competitive environment, having participated in just the last three and a half weeks of the alternate training site workouts and missing most of instructional league due to a minor knee injury.

In his lone pro season, Jones hit .335/.413/.461 with 19 stolen bases and 18 extra-base hits in 48 games.

“I think this is a huge accomplishment for me to get the invite to come down here (to Port Charlotte, Fla.) and play,’’ Jones said. “I kind of had an idea maybe that I might be coming down here, but I wasn't for sure. When I got the call, I was really excited to be able to come down.’’

Jones is known for his speed and athleticism, and he said he added 10 pounds—“a good 10 pounds”—to help add pop without slowing him down.

Like many other minor leaguers, he said 2020 was difficult to deal with given the cancellation of the season.

“It was a little different because I haven't gone that long without playing baseball really my whole life,’’ he said. “So definitely something to really get used to, not being able to play ball."

COOL RAYS

— Wander Franco made quite an impression with his first spring homer, a blast that landed on, or possibly over, the office building that sits behind the boardwalk. No ball was found on the roof. If Franco’s blast cleared the office building, a team official estimated it would have gone 550 feet.

Josh Fleming, who made an impressive 2020 debut with a 5-0 record, has looked solid again this spring, as have fellow rotation candidates Luis Patiño and Shane McClanahan. But manager Kevin Cash indicated they were more likely to open the season with returning veteran starters Tyler Glasnow and Ryan Yarbrough, plus free agent additions Chris Archer, Rich Hill and Michael Wacha.

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Tampa Bay Rays 2019 MLB Draft Report Card

Highlighting the best tools, best debuts, late-round steals and more from the 2019 Tampa Bay Rays draft.

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