Greg Jones And The Rays Were Meant To Be
If you believe in omens, Greg Jones was meant to play for the Rays.
And if you really believe, he was meant to be drafted by them with the 22nd overall pick.
When Jones signed up to play baseball for the first time as a 6-year-old in Raleigh, N.C., he was assigned to play on the Devil Rays team. And the jersey he was given bore No. 22.
"It’s like a dream come true if you think about it,” his father Greg Sr. said at Tropicana Field when Greg Jr. made it official, signing a slot deal for $3,027,000 before starting his pro career at short-season Hudson Valley.
The Rays were most attracted to the blazing speed Jones showed at UNC Wilmington, but they consider his all-around tools and overall package to be a good fit.
"We have somebody who we think has the ingredients, not just physically, but mentally, character, all the things that we’re looking for,” scouting director Rob Metzler said.
The Rays said they planned to let Jones play shortstop this year, but they are also considering moving the switch-hitter to center field to take advantage of his speed.
Jones had the opportunity to turn pro coming out of high school in Cary, N.C., when he was the Orioles' 17th-round pick in 2017. But he decided to go to college, which also helped lead him to the Rays.
"That was the best thing we could have done for him,” Greg Sr. said. "He wasn’t ready coming out of high school. He had to get a little bigger, a little stronger."
Jones has more reason to feel comfortable with the Rays.
The first time he saw a major league game? You probably guessed it by now: he watched the Rays play at Tropicana Field against the Yankees during a 2004 family trip to Florida.
Standing on the Trop turf and looking around at field level on his first official day with the organization, Jones felt at home.
"It feels a little bit more my size now,” Jones said. "It looked a lot bigger back then. So I just can’t wait to be playing in a place like this.”
— Third baseman Mike Brosseau, signed as a nondrafted free agent out of Oakland University, was called up in late June to make his big league debut.
— Among a series of midseason promotions, the Rays moved shortstop Wander Franco from low Class A Bowling Green to high Class Class A Charlotte, Vidal Brujan and Tyler Walls from Charlotte to Double-A Montgomery and called up 2017 top pick Brendan McKay.