Bradley Jones was the Blue Jays’ 18th Round Draft Pick in 2016. While his draft position may not excite fans, Jones’ start to his professional career (.310/.357/.614 batting line in 79 games) has put him on the radar of scouts and fans alike as one of the fastest rising prospects in the Blue Jays’ farm system.
I had the honor and privilege of interviewing Bradley Jones to share his insights, stories, and other exciting information for the readers at Jays Journal.
Jason– I’d like to start by saying a pretty late congratulations on being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays. Can you possibly recount the big announcement?
Bradley– “Yeah, for sure. I was with my girlfriend, my parents, and my parents’ friends on a day we were all out riding dirt bikes. You know, I got a call saying that I was drafted by the Blue Jays and it was pretty exciting. I wasn’t really stressing it too much and I didn’t want to overthink it as far as the process was going so I was trying to kill some time but when I got the call, it was pretty exciting.”
Jason– Wow, that’s really amazing. Bradley, you had good numbers in college at Charleston but you really turned a lot of heads last year with your amazing professional debut with Bluefield. The next question I would like to ask you is, how was your transition from college baseball to professional baseball? Are there any similarities or mostly differences between the two?
Bradley– “I think there’s both similarities and differences. You know, it’s still the same game. But as far as pro ball, there’s a lot of coaching yourself. You have coaches but when you go on slumps, it’s about finding who you really are and how you can get out of those slumps because a lot of it is about teaching yourself how to do things. It was a learning experience in that aspect but as far as playing the game, it’s still baseball.”
Jason– That’s really great insight for aspiring high school and college baseball players. As I hinted before, starting with last year’s unbelievable debut and this year’s continued success, the name Bradley Jones is really starting to get known by Jays fans, writers, and analysts. What do you attribute to your development into a top Blue Jays prospect?
Bradley– “You know, I think the biggest thing is just finding my rhythm. Having a good approach at the plate, less than two strikes and with two strikes, we worked a lot on that in Spring Training this year and it’s just about buying into the things that they teach you so I really give a lot of credit to the coaches in the organization. Finding rhythm, finding timing, and just playing the game that you’ve always played.”
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Jason– I noticed in your player summary, a lot of websites list you as a corner infielder but I’ve heard you’ve been playing a lot of 2nd base recently. What has your development been like on the defensive side of the game and what do you consider your strongest position?
Bradley– “The Blue Jays put a lot of emphasis on defense and I take a lot of pride in trying to learn new positions. I didn’t even start playing first base until my junior year at college. My best position, just based on comfort, would probably be third base right now but it’s a process through which I’m trying to get better at all three [1st, 2nd, 3rd] and it’s going in the right direction. I get early work in before the games and I worked a lot in Spring Training and Instructionals so it’s all starting to get more comfortable and better.”
Jason– To expand from that, describe yourself as a player. Who did you look up to as a kid and what player do you most resemble from the MLB today?
Bradley– “That’s a tough question. Growing up, I didn’t really look up to any player but A-Rod was my favorite player. Other than that, I looked up to my dad a lot. He taught me how to play the game the right way, competitiveness and how to compete, and stuff like that. And as far as who my game models similar to in the MLB today, I don’t really have a good answer for that.”
Jason– So you don’t pay attention to the MLB. Rather, it’s about the process getting to the big leagues that is on your mind most of the time?
Bradley– “Absolutely. And you know, I love to sit and watch some games every now and then, but I don’t keep up with it too much. It’s just about playing the game that I’m playing and getting my work in and moving up in the organization.”
Jason– Obviously, the Blue Jays have created quite a stir recently in the MLB from their postseason runs. When you got drafted by Toronto, did you know anything about the Jays and did you pay attention to any of their success?
Bradley– “A little bit. Obviously, you know Bautista, Donaldson, Tulowitzki and guys like that. But as far as watching, I’ve never really been a big guy that sits around and watches baseball. I’m more of a basketball guy, to be honest with you.”
Jason– Bradley, I want to bring up the topic of strikeouts and walks. So far in your professional career, albeit in a small sample, I saw that you’ve struck out 90 times in 80 games, and only walked 23 times. Is plate discipline something you’ve had in the back of your mind, and something you might want to improve on for the future or are you a player that finds success with being aggressive?
Bradley– “I think it’s a little bit of both. I like to be aggressive early in the counts but when I get to two strikes, it’s been a process for me. It’s still a learning game for me right now so it’s just about finding a good two-strike approach that works for you. It’s not that I’m not trying but it’s just a work in progress.”
Jason– To continue from that, what are your goals this season other than to keep tearing the cover off of baseballs?
Bradley– “The main goal right now is for the Lugnuts to win the Midwest League Championship. That’s the only thing on my mind right now as far as helping the team win and if I get called up, that’s great. And like I was telling you earlier, working on both sides of the game, both offensive and defensive wise.”
Bradley– “Yeah, in a way and you know, I think they’re a mentor to me. We can learn from everybody. It’s fun to get to play alongside those two guys, and they obviously have some very good talent and are very special players so it’s good to wake up every day and get to play with guys like Guerrero, Bichette, and Woodman. We have a lot of talent up here [in Lansing] so it’s fun and it’s a good learning experience for all of us.”
Jason– Bradley, who has been the biggest influence in your baseball career and would you like to thank them through this interview?
Bradley– “Of course. It’s back to what I said earlier about my dad. I give a lot of credit to him because he was there with me through it all; from the time I was four or five when I started playing and until now. Also, a lot of credit to all my coaches that I’ve had throughout the years.”
Jason– Bradley, to close off this interview, can you share any advice for aspiring young baseball players?
Bradley– “The biggest thing would be to just keep grabbing and if you’re going to play professional baseball, it’s not out of reach and keep pursuing your dreams. Don’t give up until your career is over and just keep grinding!”
On behalf of Jays Journal, we would like to thank Bradley Jones for taking the time out of his busy schedule to accommodate an interview and allow our readers a chance to get up close and personal with one of the Blue Jays top rising prospects. Follow and interact with Bradley on Twitter @Brad_jones13.