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Tournaments | Story | 6/13/2019

A chip off the old block

Jack Nelson        
Photo: Andruw Jones (Perfect Game)

MARIETTA, Ga.- Andruw Jones is patrolling the baseball fields of Atlanta once again. Although the former Braves great has not appeared in an MLB game since 2012, his son, Andruw, or Druw as his teammates call him, has established himself as one of the top players in Perfect Game’s high school class of 2022.

All of Jones’s tools were on display as his 643 DP Cougars 15u team defeated the Ninth Inning Royals 15u in pool play of the Perfect Game 15u Summer Showdown. At the plate, he was 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored, adding two stolen bases. While Jones swung it well all day, perhaps his most impressive at-bat came in the bottom of the sixth inning when he laid down a perfect bunt down the third base line.

A primary outfielder, Jones is a true baseball player and he showed that against the Ninth Inning Royals. Starting the game in centerfield, Jones slid over to second base and then finished the game playing third. He recorded a put out at all three positions. The 6-foot-2 jack-of-all-trades can also pitch, and has been clocked as high as 89 mph.

“He is so versatile,” 643 coach Nelson Pedraza said. “He can play just about everywhere on the field. He did that today. He pitched pretty well yesterday, too.”

Because of his adaptability and pure raw talent, Jones is the No. 12 overall player in Perfect Game’s high school class of 2022.

As a freshman at Wesleyan High School (GA) in the spring, Jones had one game where he hit two grand slams in a game on his way to an 11 RBI night. In his first season of varsity baseball, Jones was named first team All-Gwinnett County, hitting .463 with six home runs. He also had .84 ERA on the mound.

The numbers are gaudy, but Jones broke down his game in much simpler terms.

“I have pretty good range in the outfield,” he said. “I have a pretty good arm, and can play infield if needed. At the plate, I mainly work gap to gap and up the middle.”

With a father as a former big leaguer, Jones has the luxury of soliciting his dad’s advice whenever he needs help. But the elder Jones keeps things simple with his son.

“He just tells me to work hard every day and always hustle,” said Jones.

In an age of so much specialization, many athletes will choose to focus on one sport during high school to maximize their chance of receiving a scholarship. Jones rejects that approach, and believes his time as a basketball player in the winter elevates his strengths as a baseball player.

“It helps me get more athletic,” said Jones. “And it is a great way to stay in good shape during the offseason. Basketball is great for conditioning.”

The summer tournament circuit can be a grind at times, especially when teams will play two or three games per day in the oppressive Georgia heat. But Jones thrives on these sun soaked diamonds.

“I just love the game of baseball,” said Jones. “It’s truly a blessing to be able to come out here and play in these tournaments.”

Although he is only 15, Jones has big dreams and aspirations to reach the pinnacle of baseball, just as his father had done for 17 years in the big leagues.

“I just want to make it to the MLB and have a good career,” said Jones.

The younger Jones certainly possesses much of the talent his father had, but there is another current MLB player that Druw tries to emulate.

“I like Mike Trout, especially the way he comes out every day and works hard. He’s a great hitter and a good defender. He is someone I definitely look up to.”

While his on-field talent is impressive, Coach Pedraza believes Jones’s greatest asset lies in who he is as a person.

“His biggest strength is his makeup,” Pedraza said. “I’ve never coached a player with such a great makeup. He’s a great player, a great teammate, a great athlete.

Jones is three years away from the 2022 MLB Draft, but even at this early stage his coach projects him to be on the same path as his father. who made his MLB debut when he was 19.

“I see him in the big leagues one day,” said Pedraza. “I think he will be a first rounder.”



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