While Jones’ brothers, T.J. and Malachi, followed in their late father Andre’s footsteps by playing football – both have played professionally – Jahmai’s passion was always baseball. He hit the ground running after the Angels went above slot to sign him from the Georgia high school ranks in 2015, hitting his way to full-season ball in 2016, then across two levels of A ball in 2017. He’s struggled to find consistency since reaching the upper levels, though signs of life in the second half of 2019 in Double-A carried over to a strong Arizona Fall League campaign, leading to a spot on the 40-man roster.
Some of Jones’ struggles early in 2019 point to things he needs to work on, but some of it was pure bad luck. He showed his characteristic good plate discipline and was making consistent hard contact, but he was nonetheless registering low BABIP. His hard work and willingness to make adjustments paid off as he posted an .881 OPS in August then hit .302/.377/.509 in the AFL. There’s plenty of bat speed and some extra-base authority to still tap into at the plate.
Jones began his pro career in the outfield, but moved to his high school position at second base in 2018. He started getting some time back in the outfield in 2019 and in the AFL, something that will increase in 2020 as he adds more versatility to his game. If Jones can carry his end-of-year confidence over, he still has the tools to be a solid big league regular.
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 60 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Jones comes from a football family. One brother, T.J., is a wide receiver for the Detroit Lions. His other brother, Malachi, was the Arena Football League Receiver of the Year in 2018, and his late father, Andre, won a national title with Notre Dame. Jahmai Jones was a two-sport star but always felt baseball was his passion, signing with the Angels for above pick value in the second round of the 2015 Draft. An outfielder at the outset of his pro career, he shifted to second base in 2018 and reached Double-A.
Jones played second base in high school, but the jury had been out in his Draft year whether he would be better suited there or in the outfield. He had played solid defense in the outfield for the Angels, but the organization felt he had a better chance of reaching the big leagues back on the infield. He's still learning the nuances of the position, getting a lot more reps during his strong Arizona Fall League stint, and should be capable enough to stay there. The position switch clearly impacted his offensive output, but he still showed the ability to draw walks, steal bases and drive the ball with sneaky pop, thanks to excellent bat speed.
Despite the relatively down year offensively, the Angels are confident Jones will get back to his typical production now that he's more comfortable back on the dirt. His plus makeup and work ethic should aid him in becoming a solid everyday second baseman.
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 60 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50
There have been countless two-sport stars who turn their focus to baseball at the professional level, with mixed results, as pure athleticism doesn't always translate to the diamond. When a player combines those kinds of raw tools with a high baseball IQ, there's a chance for something special to happen. That's what the Angels think they have in Jones.
A wide receiver in high school with a father and brother who played in the NFL, Jones has legit athleticism, and he's already learned how to use it consistently on the baseball field. His plus speed is an asset on the basepaths, with basestealing ability. He showed aptitude in center field, but the Angels moved him to second base just prior to the start of the 2018 season, a position he played in high school. At the plate, Jones has a quick swing generated for contact -- he reeled off a 25-game hitting streak in the California League in 2017 -- while continuing to tap into his considerable raw power more consistently. He gets extremely high marks for his work ethic and makeup, both on and off the field.
His intangibles give Jones a very high floor. His tools and athleticism give him a very high ceiling. He's poised to impact the upper levels of the Angels system and could be ready to join another toolsy homegrown player, Mike Trout, in Los Angeles soon.
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 60 | Arm: 50 | Field: 60 | Overall: 50
The Angels haven't produced an impact type talent internally since Mike Trout made his way to Los Angeles. While it would be completely unfair to compare Jones to the perennial MVP candidate, the organization is nearly as excited about the 2015 second-round pick's future as they were about their 2009 first-rounder.
Jones' game has vastly improved across the board since he began his pro career. He comes from a football background as a receiver in high school -- his father played in the NFL as did one brother, with a second brother playing collegiately -- and he has quickly translated his plus athleticism to performance on the diamond. His baseball IQ is off the charts on both sides of the ball. He'll use a refined up-the-middle approach and he's already starting to grow into his power, showing the ability to backspin balls into the right-center field gap. His plus speed is an asset and he maximizes it by being a smart baserunner and by improving his reads and routes in center field, where he has the potential to stay long term.
Obviously, he might have to move in deference to that Trout fellow, but he has the arm and offensive profile to be just fine in a corner. With off-the-charts makeup and work ethic, don't be surprised to see Jones start to move a little more quickly and vault up prospect rankings.
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 60 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50
While the Angels went the college route in taking catcher Taylor Ward in the first round of the 2015 Draft, they went for a toolsy high school athlete in Jones in Round 2. Jones, whose father played college football and briefly in the NFL and whose brothers also played football at a high level, looks like a tailback or safety, albeit one with a feel for baseball.
Jones does bring explosive athleticism to the field. He has terrific speed that helps him on both sides of the ball. He has a flat, line-drive stroke at the plate right now and he's shown a willingness to make adjustments. He does have bat speed and some strength, so when he adds some lift to his swing, he could grow into 12-15 home run type power. His speed works well in center field and he can outrun mistakes as he learns to improve his routes.
More than his raw tools, Jones' aptitude and off-the-charts makeup stand out and give him the chance to succeed at the highest level, with a chance to be an everyday center fielder in the big leagues a strong possibility.
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 60 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45
Jones' late father Andrew Jones was a starting linebacker on Notre Dame's 1988 national championship team, and two of his older brothers played college football. Jahmai Jones was an honorable mention all-state wide receiver himself as a sophomore, but it was clear his future was on the diamond, with the Angels taking him at the end of the second round and giving him $1.1 million to sign him away from North Carolina.
At the plate, Jones' quick hands and smooth swing help him make a lot of contact. His swing is geared toward hitting line drives, and he sprays them to all fields. He has above-average speed and uses it well on the basepaths.
Scouts were divided on where Jones fit best defensively as the Draft approached. He'd played second base and the outfield, and the Angels sent him out as a center fielder. Wherever he plays, he should hit well enough to be a regular no matter where he settles.