Mitch Jones ... Major League debut
Mitch Jones can crush a ball. No doubt about that. Put a fast ball
anywhere near his hitting zone and he's likely to deposit it in the next area code. Look at the home run totals for this guy. In 2004, he hit 39 out in the Eastern League. With the Dodgers for just over 100 games, he has hit 37. Why haven't we seen him in L.A. before now?
Aside from the fact that the Dodgers opened the season with a full compliment of Major League-tested outfielders (Ramirez, Kemp, Ethier, Pierre), there is that strikeout thing.
While he has hit 221 home runs in his 4,215 times at bat n the minor leagues, he's struck out 1,097 times in 1,016 games, including 104 with Las Vegas and Albuquerque over parts of 2008 and 2009.
Power like that is something you don't find hanging on your Christmas tree and almost always you pay for that kind of power with strikeouts.
He attended major league spring training for the first time in 2009 at Camelback and he drew immediate attention with his high, arching home runs shots that left contrails in the bright Arizona sky.
He quickly slugged four home runs led not only the Dodgers but the entire major league system in runs batted in very early in the season but his playing time was squeezed when a guy by the name of Ramirez made a big stir by signing about a week into the season.
But now, at age 31, he finally made his way to The Show after spending 10 years in the Minors and two in Japan and got his first National League Major League time at bat in the but struck out swinging on a 3-2 changeup in the dirt from Oakland reliever Michael Wuertz. And his family from Orem, Utah, were in attendance to see his first Major League at-bat.
The Dodgers purchased Jones' contract from Triple-A Albuquerque before the game after they optioned Blake DeWitt and Jamie Hoffmann to Albuquerque on Sunday and called up catcher A.J. Ellis soon after. The Dodgers moved pitcher Jason Schmidt to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Jones on the 40-man roster.
In a quirk of fate, his first experience with a Major League club came when he was called up by the Yankees and then-manager Joe Torre in 2006 for just one game but didn't see any action. He didn't even get to take batting practice as it was rained out before the Yankees played the Mets at Shea Stadium.
The following day that he was sent back down to Triple-A Columbus.
"I was there for the ballgame and active, but that was about it," Jones told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. "So it was tough. I always wondered if I'd be back. I didn't want that to be only memory."
Jones did everything he could this season to get the callup. He slugged 21 home runs with Albuquerque this season. He was batting .292 with 50 RBIs in 50 games with the Isotopes, has been hot lately, as he had five home runs in his past seven games.
"He works hard and he's improved his play in the outfield," Torre said. "He's a threat at the plate. It's not easy to hit home runs, but he has that threat."
"I felt like I was swinging good recently, but it was a slower start than I would've liked," Jones said.
Jones, one of the truly nice guys in baseball, told LADugout during spring training that he if didn't make the club, he would go where they sent him and, hopefully, demonstrate that he could help some club somewhere.
It's one of those little games within a game that is played out many times over the course of a major league season but this time is it one of ours and maybe he can stick around for a long time and enjoy the view from the top because he's certainly earned it.