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Giants promote prospect Jones, designate Hill

23-year-old faced Mets' deGrom in MLB debut
MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SAN FRANCISCO -- As Ryder Jones absorbed his promotion to the Giants, the third-base prospect experienced how life imitates modern technology.

Jones, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Sacramento, was immediately thrust into San Francisco's lineup for Saturday's game against the Mets and their formidable right-hander, Jacob deGrom. Jones went 0-for-4 in the Giants' 5-2 loss.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- As Ryder Jones absorbed his promotion to the Giants, the third-base prospect experienced how life imitates modern technology.

Jones, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Sacramento, was immediately thrust into San Francisco's lineup for Saturday's game against the Mets and their formidable right-hander, Jacob deGrom. Jones went 0-for-4 in the Giants' 5-2 loss.

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Video: NYM@SF: Giants get out of the inning with a DP

"That's a tough matchup for him in his first game," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "When [deGrom is] on, he's as good as anybody in the game. They pitched him tough. But you know what? He got some good swings, and that's all you want."

Though this game marked Jones' Major League debut, he revealed that he had faced deGrom before -- on Friday night, while playing "MLB: The Show" with injured teammate Christian Arroyo.

"Just messing around," Jones said. "I got a knock, maybe a popup. Arroyo was manning deGrom. He threw me some good pitches."

Jones, 23, likely will see all kinds of pitches in the near future. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Jones, the Giants' No. 27 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, will play third base regularly until Eduardo Nunez (left hamstring) makes his anticipated return from the disabled list in late June.

Tweet from @SFGiants: Welcome to the big leagues, rookie ����#Homegrown | #SFGiants pic.twitter.com/EwVDhkH03v

Jones' ascent is part of the Giants' efforts to evaluate their supply of Minor League talent at the Major League level, given their downfall from contender status.

Hence the presence of left fielder Austin Slater, 24, in the lineup with Jones, as well as right-hander Kyle Crick, 24, in the bullpen. As of June 1, all three were on Sacramento's roster.

"Unfortunately, we've put ourselves in a position here where we're going to take a look at some younger players," Bochy said. "But the good thing is that these guys are getting a chance to show us what they can do. They're going to get some experience up here, and playing time will be invaluable for them."

To clear roster space room for Jones, the Giants designated veteran infielder Aaron Hill for assignment. A non-roster invitee to Spring Training, Hill batted .132 with four extra-base hits and seven RBIs in 34 games with the Giants this season.

Jones earned his ticket to San Francisco by hitting .299 with 16 doubles, 10 home runs and 33 RBIs in 53 games with Sacramento. He has played first base and the outfield corners this year, giving him versatility that Bochy likely will find handy.

Jones entered this season with a pedestrian .253 career Minor League batting average in four seasons after the Giants drafted him in the second round in 2013. But he said that he experienced a "turning point" last year by gaining patience during his at-bats. He led Double-A Richmond with 15 home runs and 67 RBIs, then proceeded to post a .302/.380/.429 slash line in 18 games with Scottsdale in the Arizona Fall League.

Video: SCO@SRR: Jones' RBI double extends lead

"Fall League was huge because I didn't play every day, so I learned how to stay locked in," Jones said. "I also learned how to study games and study pitchers and see what they throw."

Clearly improving, Jones batted .385 (5-for-13) with a double and a home run in 16 Cactus League games this year.

"He can put the ball in the air," said Slater, citing a priority for contemporary hitters.

Jones admitted that being a second-round pick created self-imposed pressure.

"You want to be worth [it]," Jones said. "So you want to go out there and hit home runs, steal bases and make plays that you shouldn't make. You get in trouble doing that."

Bochy lavished praise upon Hill, calling him "one of my favorite players in the short time I've had him. What a pro he was."

Asked if Hill, 35, could help a young, contending team as an influential veteran presence, Bochy said the veteran could do so. "Without question," said Bochy. "He's not a .120 hitter. Every time he went up there, I felt good, like something was going to happen."

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

San Francisco Giants, Aaron Hill