Angels Draft pick Jones adjusting to pro ball
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Jahmai Jones is living out his dream and his exuberance was evident as soon as he stepped into the dugout, minutes before his first professional game in the Arizona Rookie League.
"Way up I feel blessed," Jones sang, a line from Big Sean's "Blessings."
Leading off and playing center field for the Arizona League Angels, Jones went 1-for-4 with a run scored in his debut Saturday night. He then followed that up with a 3-for-4 performance Sunday.
But for as "blessed" as he may be feeling, the past two weeks haven't been perfect.
"It's been a lot of ups and downs," Jones said. "It's good, getting out here and being able to play the game I love as a profession. [But] also leaving my family, having them not being able to see me play is something you think about a little bit, but not too much."
Missing family hasn't been the only distraction Jones has dealt with in his short time as a professional.
In just his second night in Arizona, Jones' roommate found bedbugs in the bed, prompting the two of them to share a bed -- quite the bonding experience in a player's first week with new teammates.
However, Jones brushed that off with the same calm, cool demeanor he displays on the field.
"It alright now, no worries," Jones said.
Jones, the Angels second-round selection of the 2015 MLB Draft, had been committed to the University of North Carolina, but once the Angels called his name with the 70th overall pick of the draft, his decision was made.
Jones has dreamt of playing professional baseball for a while and he didn't want to put that dream on hold for three more years.
"It was pretty easy," Jones said of the decision to sign with the Angels. "UNC is a great place, don't get me wrong. I love the institution, Coach Fox, Coach Forbes? Coach Jackson, everybody. But I couldn't turn down second round or could I turn down the dream to go play professional baseball."
Despite the aforementioned lows, the past two weeks have featured a lot of highs for Jones. After agreeing to terms, MLB.com's Jim Callis reported that Jones signed a $1.1 million contract, Jones flew to Anaheim to sign his first professional contract.
While at Angel Stadium, Jones toured the facilities and took in some batting practice.
"It was awesome getting to see those guys take BP and showing me what I need to do to get up to those higher levels," Jones said. "They play the game with intensity, they know exactly what they're doing. The hitters are very relaxed, they play the game and are smart about it … It's definitely something to look forward to."
And perhaps in a few years, if all goes well, Jones will enter that dugout for the first time, singing a song, getting ready to accomplish another lifelong goal.