CLEVELAND -- If Holy Ghost Prep baseball coach Vince Rossomando had his way, all of his players would have a background in hockey.On Thursday night, Holy Ghost shortstop Nolan Jones heard his name called by the Indians in the second round (55th overall pick) of the 2016 MLB Draft. Jones
CLEVELAND -- If Holy Ghost Prep baseball coach Vince Rossomando had his way, all of his players would have a background in hockey.
On Thursday night, Holy Ghost shortstop Nolan Jones heard his name called by the Indians in the second round (55th overall pick) of the 2016 MLB Draft. Jones gave up hockey prior to his senior season at the Bensalem, Pa., high school, but his head coach is convinced all those years on the ice helped pave his path to professional baseball.
"If I could have, every single year, a team of baseball players that were also hockey players," Rossomando told MLB.com on Thursday night, "that would be my perfect team. They are one of those athletes. You can see among all professional sports, they are the most well-conditioned and they are usually just the best competitors."
• 14th overall: Will Benson
• 55th overall: Nolan Jones
• 72nd overall: Logan Ice
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The Indians like Jones for his ability to hit -- no matter where he winds up playing in the field -- and Cleveland agreed that hockey played a role in his development, especially recently.
Brad Grant, Cleveland's director of amateur scouting, noted that Jones teamed with his brother, Peyton, on a strict weight-lifting program. Peyton, a hockey prospect who will be lacing up for Penn State, helped Nolan put on 25 pounds of muscle over the past year. While Jones ran into an early-season back issue, the added strength led to some eye-popping offensive numbers on the diamond as a senior.
"He's a guy we feel is going to hit," Grant said, "and hit with power."
The selection of Jones comes after Cleveland used its first-round pick (No. 14 overall) on another prep star: outfielder Will Benson of The Westminster Schools in Atlanta. The Indians then concluded Day 1 by selecting Oregon State catcher Logan Ice in Lottery Round B (No. 72 overall).
The 2016 Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 1 p.m. ET.
In 19 games during his senior season with the Firebirds, the left-handed-hitting Jones posted a .636/.750/1.181 slash line in 72 plate appearances. Along the way, he collected five home runs, five doubles, two triples, 24 RBIs, 26 runs and 17 steals in 17 attempts. Jones also piled up far more walks (24) than strikeouts (three) in a season that began with him fighting a back issue.
Jones also worked eight shutout innings with 11 strikeouts as a part-time pitcher for Holy Ghost.
"He's a phenomenal kid -- the best player I've had the opportunity to coach," Rossomando said. "He has that perfect fine line of confidence, yet humility to know he's got to work every day to get better. And just from an athletic standpoint, he's unbelievable. He can hit for average, but also has the ability to hit for power. He has a great eye at the plate. He's a very disciplined hitter."
MLB.com rated Jones as the Draft's 20th-best prospect heading into the Draft, noting that some evaluators feel the 6-foot-4 infielder might profile better as a third baseman in the long run. Grant agreed, noting that the 2016 Rawlings-Perfect Game First Team All-American will likely wind up at third base in the Tribe's farm system.
Jones is a University of Virginia commit, but Grant expressed confidence in Cleveland's ability to sign the draftee.
"He's another guy we couldn't be more thrilled about getting," Grant said.
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.