No surprise in Garrett Jones, just hard work

BB: April 5th, 2010

Every season there seems to be a handful of guy who surprises baseball knowhows by a couple of home runs to start the season. One of the names being floated out there this year is Garrett Jones.

Jones isn’t a household name and it’s not because he plays for Pittsburgh. It’s because he played just 82 games for Pittsburgh last season. In those 82 games Jones put up some real numbers. He hit .293/.372/.567 with 21 homers, 21 doubles, 44 RBI and even added in 10 stolen bases.

Some suggested Jones was even the NL Rookie of the Year and while he finished a distant seventh it’s worth noting the only category winner Chris Coghlan placed high was in runs scored. For all the talk that Coghlan, Tommy Hanson and J.A. Happ got Jones was an after thought.

So suddenly Jones hits a couple of home runs on Opening Day and another yesterday and everyone is buzzing about the 28-year-old outfielder.

I suppose people think it makes for a great story. Well here’s what I think is a better story. Jones was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1999 and after three years in Rookie ball was released. Bamm 20 years old and already behind in the count.

You can’t blame the Braves for the release though. They’ve always seemed to have a steady pipleline flowing and Jones had shown little reason to remain in the organization. Signed by Minnesota in the winter of 2001 it took him until the 2004 season to finally start hitting.

In that 2004 season he hit 31 total homers, 38 doubles had a .911 OPS and undoubtedly earned his stay for another four years. Upon his promotion to Triple-A he again struggeled aside from occasional glimpses of pop. After two down years (2005, 2006) he began to turn the corner in the following two seasons. In 2008 he had 33 dobules, 23 homers and a .821 OPS which were all highs since his 2004 season.

Just when things looked like they had turned the corner for the kid it happened again.

Jones ran into the same problem he did in Atlanta. He was blocked in Minnesota and after four years of time at Triple-A the organization found it easier to simply release him then to try and find room on a crowded major league bench.

Garrett Jones left Minnesota with nothing more then a cup of coffee in the 2007 season. Enter Pittsburgh, a team which has become a bit of a home for similar players hoping to hang on.

Almost immediately things began to click but the Pirates thought it best to start Jones with their Triple-A club. After an impressive stay in Indianapolis he again was called-up to the big league roster once the Pirates traded Eric Hinske to the Yankees.

That’s when things really began to pick up. Jones hit 10 home runs in his first 21 games earned honors as the NL’s Rookie of the Month in July and began to create a buzz in Pittsburgh.

Jones never stopped hitting last season, he’s just carried it over to this season.

There’s been players like him in the minors before some have gotten a chance others haven’t. He’s just been pushing the rock back up the hill and now he’s getting to show off all his hard work. There is no surprise in Garrett Jones’ 2010 season.