Mississippi State is losing pitcher Devin Jones to pro ball. The right-hander from Eupora, who just finished up his junior season, said he will sign with Baltimore, which drafted him in the ninth round (No. 275 overall).
I caught up with Jones this morning as he drove to Jackson to catch a flight to Baltimore, where he'll sign the paperwork and undergo a physical (he said it should all be done by this afternoon or first thing Thursday morning). Jones said it wasn't an easy decision leaving MSU, but he's getting a $97,500 signing bonus, and the Orioles will pay for his final three semester of school so he can graduate.
"It was extremely tough," Jones said. "That's kind of why I held out a little bit longer. It was hard just because of the fact that you've got good opportunities in Starkville, and you've got connections everywhere. But I felt like the money was right."
Jones will report to Sarasota, Fla., for a 10-day mini-camp, then will probably be placed with the Aberdeen (Md.) IronBirds in Class A short season.
This past season, Jones logged a 2-5 record and 4.37 ERA in 59 2/3 innings. He made 19 appearances, including eight starts, losing his weekend starting role early on after some struggles. He finished the season strong, though: Over his last four outings, Jones gave up just two runs (both earned) on 12 hits in 10 2/3 innings, including three shutout innings of Florida in Game 3 of the Gainesville Super Regional.
For his career, Jones was 4-13 with a 6.37 ERA, striking out 93 with 61 walks and 13 wild pitches in 111 2/3 innings
MSU coach John Cohen has often raved about Jones' professional prospects even while the pitcher has struggled. Jones thinks he's made strides.
"I think I'm very close," he said. "I've just got to keep throwing, keep pitching as much as possible to get there. That's the only way you're really going to learn yourself or learn anything, is through doing it. That's one thing that I need to do is pitch more and pick up what I can and be attentive. Just try to prepare as much as possible every day."
Jones will be the fifth Bulldog to sign a pro deal this summer, joining departing seniors Jarrod Parks (Los Angeles Angels, 24th round), Nick Vickerson (Texas, 20th round), Jonathan Ogden (Detroit, free agent) and Wes Thigpen (Detroit, free agent).
Parks, by the way, had quite the debut last night with the Orem (Utah) Owlz: 3 of 4 with two home runs, three RBIs and three runs scored in a 23-1 win.