With one trade on Feb. 2, the Orioles were able to satisfy their need for infield depth and move a veteran starting pitcher who didn’t fit in their rebuild plans.
Jones, a 2015 second-rounder from Wesleyan High in Norcross, Ga., at one point ranked among Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects.
An infielder-turned-outfielder in high school, the 6-foot, 204-pound Jones made the switch back to second base in 2018. He hasn’t played shortstop or third base professionally, but the Orioles could allow him to compete for a utility job in camp, while making Freddy Galvis the starting shortstop and Yolmer Sanchez the primary second baseman.
Otherwise, Jones, whose father was former Notre Dame and NFL linebacker Andrew Jones, could play second base at Triple-A Norfolk after making his major league debut in September and going 3-for-7.
The Angels gave Jones a $1.1 million signing bonus after he committed to North Carolina. He’s a career .258/.338/.386 hitter in the minors and grades highly for his speed, versatility and plate discipline.
He was the Angels organization’s minor league player of the year in 2017 after he batted .282/.348/.446 with 29 doubles, seven triples, 14 home runs and 27 stolen bases in a combined 127 games between the Class A levels.
There was slippage in 2018, with Jones slashing a combined .239/.337/.380 in 123 games between High-A Inland Empire and Double-A Mobile. He stayed with Mobile the following summer and hit .234/.308/.324 in 544 plate appearances, but really drew notice in the AFL, when he hit .302/.377/.509.
Now, he’ll have a chance to make a big league Opening Day roster.
“I know he’s hungry,” said Brian Krehmeyer, Jones’ coach at Wesleyan High. “He wants to break camp with the big league club, he wants to be in contention for a starting position.”
— The Orioles outrighted first baseman Chris Shaw to Triple-A Norfolk after he cleared waivers. Shaw was claimed on waivers from the Giants and designated for assignment when the Orioles signed Galvis.
—The Orioles re-signed infielder Malquin Canelo to a minor league deal. Canelo was in camp last spring and never made it to the 60-man player pool before becoming a free agent.