Old Stance Helps Make Jahmai Jones New Again

The past two seasons have been tumultuous for Jahmai Jones, a two-sport star in high school who went through a position switch—from center field to second base—in 2018 and the longest slump of his four-year professional career in 2019.

But a decision to revert to his old batting stance last summer may have altered the trajectory of the 22-year-old for the better.

Jones, a second-round pick in 2015, was a mess in the first two months of 2019 at Double-A Mobile. His inability to grasp a swing change that incorporated more launch angle led to a .179/.249/.234 batting line with too many pull-side grounders and popups in 49 games.

Those struggles prompted a visit from hitting coordinator Damon Mashore and hitting analysis coordinator Ryan Parker, who suggested Jones hold his hands back and to position his hips and hands so they would work more efficiently together.

In his final 51 games, Jones hit .306/.385/.414 to salvage a season that concluded with an .886 OPS in 16 Arizona Fall League games.

“We’ve always thought highly of him, but the way he was struggling . . . it’s natural to worry when you go through something like that,” minor league field coordinator Chad Tracy said. “But he fixed his swing and rebounded. To see him bounce back and have the kind of second half he did, it reinvigorates people inside and outside the organization.”

The Angels have always loved Jones’ athleticism, attitude and work ethic, and his plate discipline did not suffer much during his first-half struggles. Jones also made strides in the second-half defensively.

Jones will likely start 2020 back at Double-A before advancing to Triple-A Salt Lake. Though he has no clear path to a role as a big league regular, Jones could be a valuable utility man.

“There’s still a lot to like there,” Tracy said. “As much as he went through, he’s still really young, and he brings a positive energy to the field no matter what. While he was going through his slump . . . he didn’t get down in dumps and start pouting. He didn’t quit and ended up having a nice second half.”

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