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Former LIU star’s first taste of the majors won’t be his last

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James Jones was destined to play in the major leagues. He just had to be patient and trust his work ethic.

And it is still true after the former Telecommunications and Long Island University baseball star made his debut with the Seattle Mariners.

Jones came up for the injured Blake Beavan two weeks ago. The left-handed centerfielder made the most of his opportunity by collecting his first big-league hit and RBI in his only at bat on April 18, beating out and infield single in the Mariners’ victory over the Marlins in Miami.

Jones was promptly sent back down to the Tacoma Rainiers, the Mariners Triple A affiliate in the Pacific Coast league, but Jones’s coach at Telecom, Ed D’Alessio, believes a little more seasoning could be a good thing for the 25-year-old Jones.

“I think he needs to be a little patient,” D’Alessio said. “I think he is better off in Triple A for a while.”

That doesn’t mean Jones lacks the talent to be a major leaguer. He’s batting .305 in 15 games in Triple A with 11 runs scored. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Jones was just in Class A ball prior to this season, and D’Alessio is confident he will earn his way to the majors again.

“He should be back,” D’Alessio said. “They liked him.”

Being a professional baseball player was also something Jones had to wait for. He wasn’t drafted out of high school, where he was a skinny 150-pounds at Telecom. Jones was a pitcher and outfielder then, but was only throwing in the low 80s.

Jones got just a partial scholarship to Long Island University — but that quickly changed, and so did how people looked at him.

His body filled out and he soon earned himself a full scholarship. As a junior, he batted .364 with 47 runs scored, 32 RBI and a .618 slugging percentage for the Blackbirds. The Mariners surprisingly drafted Jones in the fourth round — he was throwing 92–94 miles per hour.

“You can’t teach the ability that he had,” D’Alessio said. “He had the tools.”

That included his character. Jones is someone who never cursed or threw his helmet or bat in frustration. It’s easy to root for someone like that, and it makes you believe that the best is still to come.

Jones’s first major league game will likely not be his last. His record of achievement and how he carries himself says he’ll be back.

“He’s all baseball — a 100-percent dedicated baseball player,” D’Alessio said. “He was always committed, and it paid off for him.”

Posted 12:00 am, May 1, 2014
Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewski@cnglocal.com. Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.
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