TEMPE, Ariz. -- As part of MLBPipeline.com's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities this month, we will be sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Angels camp, it was No. 2 prospect Jahmai Jones. Jones has better all-around tools and a higher ceiling
TEMPE, Ariz. -- As part of MLBPipeline.com's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities this month, we will be sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Angels camp, it was No. 2 prospect Jahmai Jones.
Jones has better all-around tools and a higher ceiling than any player in the Angels' system. Signed for $1.1 million as a second-round pick in the 2015 Draft, he's the son of the late Andre Jones, a starting linebacker on Notre Dame's 1988 national championship team who played briefly in the NFL. Jahmai's brother T.J. is a wide receiver with the NFL's Detroit Lions, another brother (Malachi) is an NFL prospect who just wrapped up his career as a wide receiver at Appalachian State and his uncle Phillip Daniels played 14 years in the NFL.
MLBPipeline.com: With all of the football players in your family, and the fact that you were an honorable mention All-State wide receiver as a Georgia high school sophomore, how did you wind up playing baseball?
Jones: Football was more of a hobby for me. I loved Friday nights, playing in high school, but Monday through Thursday was not enjoyable to me. Baseball practice came along and I loved it. I stayed out there for hours. I knew from a young age I wanted baseball as a career. I do miss football sometimes and I come from a football family, but I've never regretted it.
MLBPipeline.com: You're the youngest of four brothers, all of whom played football and were active in sports. How much have they helped your career?
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Jones: Growing up, you want to be like your brothers. They played baseball, too, but did the opposite of me -- quit baseball going into their junior years. They made me the guy I am today. You always want to one-up your brothers, never in a malicious away. We always tried to make each other better, lean on each other. They gave me a competitive edge. There was a lot of sibling rivalry, but it was all wholesome fun.
MLBPipeline.com: What was it like going through the Draft process last spring? Was it stressful or were you able to enjoy it?
Jones: I was fortunate to see my brother [T.J.] go through the draft process at Notre Dame with the NFL. He watched the draft with family and friends. He went in the sixth round and you could tell he was nervous. As a senior in high school, I tried not to think about it. At the end of the day, it's still a game. And I tried to handle it responsibly and stay humble throughout the process. It's fun looking back on it. I loved every minute and we won the state championship, so that was the cherry on top.
MLBPipeline.com: You played the outfield as a freshman at Wesleyan School (Norcross, Ga.), then the middle infield as a sophomore and junior, then back to the outfield as a senior. Now you're a full-time outfielder with the Angels. What was it like bouncing back and forth? And which position do you prefer?
Jones: It's kind of a funny story. I played the infield most of the time growing up, but always kind of expected I'd push to the outfield. After my junior year, my summer coaches, Tom Haire and Todd Howard, they said, "We've seen a lot of players. You're a good infielder, but you're better as an outfielder." I started looking for a friend to play shortstop so I could move to the outfield. [That friend, Cam Shepherd, is an early-round prospect for the 2016 Draft.] I love playing the outfield. The more I play it, the more I become accustomed to it.
MLBPipeline.com: What has been your biggest adjustment to pro ball? And what are you working to improve?
Jones: Just the speed of the game. Guys run faster, balls come at you harder in the outfield, breaking balls come at you harder. I came into Rookie ball and the first couple of games, it was, "So this is what pro ball is about." My competitiveness and athleticism started to come out by the end of the season and instructs. I felt like it started to slow down. I definitely want to put a huge emphasis on basestealing. I can run a little bit and I want to make sure I can steal bases. Hitting and defense too, of course, but I definitely want to steal some bases this year.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.