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Pipeline Q&A: Indians' Nolan Jones

MLB.com @JimCallisMLB

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training camps, we'll sit down with prospects and get to know them a little better. At Indians camp, it was No. 4 prospect Nolan Jones.

One of the best high school hitters available in the 2016 Draft, Jones dropped to the Indians in the second round amid signability concerns and landed first-round money ($2.25 million). A third baseman, he followed a so-so pro debut with a strong performance in 2017, batting .317/.430/.482 and leading the short-season New York-Penn League in on-base percentage, OPS (.912), extra-base hits (25) and walks (43) at age 19.

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training camps, we'll sit down with prospects and get to know them a little better. At Indians camp, it was No. 4 prospect Nolan Jones.

One of the best high school hitters available in the 2016 Draft, Jones dropped to the Indians in the second round amid signability concerns and landed first-round money ($2.25 million). A third baseman, he followed a so-so pro debut with a strong performance in 2017, batting .317/.430/.482 and leading the short-season New York-Penn League in on-base percentage, OPS (.912), extra-base hits (25) and walks (43) at age 19.

Indians Spring Training report

:: MLB Pipeline Spring Training reports ::

MLB Pipeline: What was your Draft experience like? Were you surprised not to go in the first round despite being one of the best high school bats in your class?

Jones: I heard a lot of things and tried not to focus on any of that. It was very overwhelming to see all the scouts there to see me play, so I just took the approach that they like your natural ability so you don't have to try to impress them. I didn't really have any expectations before the Draft. I heard a lot of things, but I didn't believe any of it because anything could happen. I talked to the Indians a decent amount, but I talked to a couple of teams a little more.

MLB Pipeline: You come from a hockey background too, and your brother Peyton is a goalie at Penn State. How seriously did you consider a hockey career? Do you miss it?

Jones: I played until my junior year in high school and I believe I did have some options. I had a lot of talent in hockey as well, but I also had some concussion problems, so it's all worked out fine. I was a center. I miss it a lot. I love the competitive factor. In baseball, you have to accept failure and learn from mistakes. In hockey, if you make a mistake it can end up in your net. I think hockey has a played a huge role in me as a baseball player from the competitive aspect. You have to be mentally tough and physically tough.

MLB Pipeline: What was your biggest adjustment to pro ball?

Jones: For me, the most difficult adjustment was the pitching. Coming from the Northeast, I didn't see the hardest-throwing high school pitchers every day. I had to adjust so I was on time and that affected my swing path because I was rushing. I simplified my swing, and I started to be on time.

MLB Pipeline: What do you think led to your improvement from 2016 to 2017?

Jones: I wanted to be the guy up there hitting home runs. I think I started playing better when my attitude went from trying to hit home runs to trying to hit the ball hard. That helped me lay off pitches that weren't in the zone. When I was trying to hit home runs, I was chasing pitches.

MLB Pipeline: How has the transition gone from playing shortstop in high school to third base in pro ball?

Jones: It's been harder than I thought it was going to be. At shortstop, I was always attacking the ball, coming toward the ball and using my momentum toward first base to make throws easier. At third base, I have to go back on balls at times, go to the side. Now there are a lot of times where I'm not throwing with my feet set. It's something I had to adjust to. I'm trying to have rhythm with my feet and my hands. When I can smooth that up and make those off-balance throws, it will really boost my game to the next level.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.