Prep Baseball Report

Q&A with Indiana Commit Sam Jones

By Matt Huck
Area Scout

2018 SS Sam Jones of Brother Rice committed to Indiana last month. Jones is currently ranked No. 35 in the Illinois Class of 2018 and participated in the 2016 PBR Future Games representing Team Illinois. Here is a report on Jones from the event.

Sam JonesFuture Games 2016 - 6-foot, 170-pound, lean, right-handed hitting infielder with plenty of room for continued physical development. Steady defender on the infield, fundamentally sound and never seems to be in a hurry. Plenty of arm strength to play anywhere on the infield, 7.58 runner in the 60. Long, loose, whippy arm action from a ¾ slot; accurate throws, flashed carry and clocked at 84 mph across the diamond. Hands work soft and out in front of his body. Offensively, confident and comfortable in the box. Aggressive approach, hunts the fastball with looseness in swing. Took one of the better rounds of batting practice for Team Illinois; sprayed line drives to both gaps and made consistent hard contact. Pull approach in game with natural lift in swing; registered an 80 mph exit velocity.

PBR: What were your expectations about the recruiting process? Was it as expected? Easy/Difficult?

Jones: The recruiting process for me was probably different than for most because I had a serious injury and wasn't able to play the summer after my freshman year into the fall.  I had fractured my pelvis and needed surgery and was just starting to get back to running when I started my high school sophomore year.  So most college coaches hadn't seen or heard of me much that summer after sophomore year which is when most people are heavy into recruiting.  

PBR: What were you looking for out of a college program to continue your baseball career at?

Jones: I was looking for a program where I could develop as a player, and where I really liked the coaches and current players.  Also one where I would be able to get a good education with a strong program in the field I want to study.  

PBR: Did location or distance from home play a factor in your decision?

Jones: Location didn't play a factor but it's nice that I am close enough that my family can come watch me play.  And being in the Big 10, almost all of the schools in that conference are even closer for my parents.

PBR: When did the recruiting process really start to heat up for you? Was there a particular game or event that you feel turned the corner for you?

Jones: I had some interest over the summer but as I was still working on running most coaches wanted to watch to see how the injury progressed.  I had talked to numerous coaches, had a number of visits, and one solid offer by early November, and then I attended the Cangelosi College Development Camp. I'd been working really hard with a trainer and at that camp I ran a 6.9 60 yard dash. As soon as the coaches saw that the entire process sped up and I received 4 more offers within two weeks.

PBR: Where did the college you chose first see you? How did your relationship develop with them?

Jones: Indiana first saw me over the summer and I talked to the coaches a few times. I was supposed to go to their fall camp but then was invited to go to Jupiter with Cangelosi and that was the same weekend. They were at the Cangelosi college camp and have strong relationships with both my high school coach and the Sparks.

PBR: What do you like most about the college you committed to and what were the key factors in making your decision?

Jones: I really liked the baseball program and both Coach Lemonis and Coach Cheesebrough. It's relatively close to home and they have an excellent business school.   I felt really comfortable there and loved the campus.  I've worked hard in school and wanted a great baseball program at a great academic school and I feel like Indiana offers me both. 

PBR: What other schools were on your short list before you made your final decision?

Jones: Kent State, Eastern Illinois, Xavier, and Northern Illinois 

PBR: Who is the best player you have faced in your state, and why?

Jones: Alex Thomas from Mt. Carmel because he is a 5 tool player and can effect the game both on offense and defense. Drake Fellows from JCA was one of the first pitchers I faced as a sophomore on varsity, and he has a really good fastball/slider combination and throws both for strikes consistently.

PBR: At what point in your career did you realize you were a college caliber player and became serious about taking your game to the next level?

Jones:  I thought I had a shot in 8th grade, and then I had surgery at the end of my freshman year.  So for awhile any baseball was really in question.   I could always hit relatively well, but obviously you have to run to be able to compete.  It wasn't until this fall when I could finally focus on running and watched my times drop every week that I thought I really had a shot.  I've always been very serious about playing the game, but sometimes injuries happen that you can only try to work through.

PBR: What advice would you give to young baseball players striving to get where you are?

Jones: My biggest advice is to never give up and that good things happen to people who continue to work hard. I could've given up 100 times over the last year and I kept working. I was lucky- I have great coaches both in the Sparks and at Brother Rice and they never gave up on me. My parents always supported my dream and kept helping me get there. So I guess surround yourself with people who believe in you and will push you when you need it.

PBR: What is the most memorable moment in your baseball career to this point?

Jones: My most memorable moment was the 30 game winning streak we had at Brother Rice last season. To be part of a team and a program like that really makes you a better player. Every player on that team is great and they push me to be better.  I couldn't ask for a better place to play.

PBR: Preview your high school season for us. How do you feel your team will be? What are your expectations and goals?

Jones: Our goal at Rice is to win the state championship this year, and we have the team to do it.   We have a ton of returning starters and some really strong newcomers.  We are psyched to be going to North Carolina in March for the USA Baseball National High School Invitational. I can't wait for the season to start.

PBR: Where do you play in the summer? And what has been your most memorable experience with them?

Jones: I play for the Illinois Sparks, now Cangelosi Sparks. I've been with the same team and Coach since I was 10 and that is an amazing experience right there.  Our trips to Cooperstown and Georgia have been a blast and really solidified how close we are as a team. That's what makes a team great. We all support each other and are friends off the baseball field.  Our coach is really dedicated and I wouldn't be where I am now without him or this team.

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