"I'm going to work my way to RFK."
The Nationals selected right-hander, Desmond Jones in the 11th round of the 2006 draft, and it was apparent early on that he had tremendous upside. Due to a strained lat muscle he was forced to begin the season in extended spring training, but he remains confident that he is on the verge of realizing his potential in pro ball. (Free Preview!)
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People immediately think of the likes of Colton Willems, Shairon Martis, Jhonny Nunez, among other when it comes to high upside pitchers in the Washington farm system. One right-hander they may incorrectly not think of is 21-year-old, Desmond Jones. Blessed with a 92-95 MPH fastball and a plus breaking ball, the Georgia native could be ready for a breakout season here in 2007. His lat strain in spring training is only a small setback, and seems to be merely delaying Jones' emergence as a strong sleeper prospect.
"This was my first spring training and I think it went well as far how good of shape I was in, mentally, and just overall physically," Jones told CapitolDugout.com. "I flew down early for about three weeks in February so I could get used to the Florida air and that really helped me get in good shape. I also got to meet the new manager, Manny Acta, while I was down."
"Due to the strain in my lat I was out for the last couple weeks of spring training," he continued. "I was getting a bad habit of dropping my elbow so I exaggerated and was almost throwing overtop, which worked some muscles that hadn't been worked before. That caused some pretty good strain on my lat."
The good news is that Jones is just about ready to jump back into live action. According to the young righty, he's on the cusp of returning to top form. That could also mean he'll soon be joining a full season squad.
"It was a thing where rest is what it needed," Jones explained. "Now I feel great! My first pen will be probably Wednesday of next week and then a live batting practice against my teammates. Once something keeps you from pitching for a couple weeks you realize how bad you love pitching and it makes you so anxious to get back up there and compete."
Prior to his injury, it seemed that Desmond Jones was on track to be joining the Hagerstown bullpen out of spring training. His path is now a bit more unclear and likely will not be decided until he can begin throwing on a consistent basis.
"My goal is definitely to reach full-season this year," he told CapitolDugout.com. "I haven't heard anything because I haven't been able to throw much. But, once I get back on the mound feeling like I do now then it should be obvious. The only thing I have to do to get there is be consistent in the strike zone. They tell me my pitches are all plus pitches and the velocity is definitely there. It's just a matter of pounding the strike zone consistently. My confidence is very good this year and I'm very excited to get on the hill."
While most feel that Jones may translate best into a late inning relief role, the possibility still seems to remain that he could project as a starter. That is something that the hard throwing righty is at least keeping in the back of his mind.
"I definitely think that it is a possibility as long as the staff wants it to happen," Jones said in regards to potentially moving into a starting role. "But either starter or reliever I'm going to work my way to RFK. Whatever it takes I'm going to do it."
He'll be getting a late start on his season, but when it does begin for Desmond Jones he'll be looking for nothing short of top notch results. However, his goals lend themselves far more than just pure statistics.
"I want to have fun and do the little things right because those things will improve the big things even more," he explained. And, for the pitching part of it, I want to throw low strikes, low strikes, low strikes as Spin Williams says. When you set a goal you kind of set a limit. But what I would like to do is have a winning season, low ERA, less walks, get a lot of work in this season on the mound and if I do those things I don't know where I could end up. Being consistent will get me where I want to go. Oh, and I definitely have a healthy season."
No, he's not the biggest name in the world of Nationals' prospect right now, but that could change rather quickly this season. He has the stuff, the demeanor, as well as the work ethic. So, what's left? Experience and learning to adapt to higher levels of competition.
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