Blog: On feeling sorry for Zach Jones

I’m feeling for Zach Jones today.

Really.

Now you may not be able to sympathize at this point for a guy you’ve never heard of (or if you have, it’s undoubtedly a different one), nor one that is playing minor league baseball right now.

After all, a fourth-round pick by Minnesota in 2012, Jones was able to sign above slot value (assessed at $356,700, according to Baseball America)and instantly saw more money in his bank account than I will in a long, long time (stupid loans).

But he had about as rough a day as a professional athlete could have last night.

Tied at 0 in the top of the 10th inning – down 1-0 in a three-game series – the Fort Myers Miracle relief pitcher was facing Charlotte Stone Crabs hitter Jeff Malm with one out and runners at second and third.

Jones had already allowed a single (and stolen base) to Richie Shaffer (Rays 2012 first-round pick) before a walk to the “Venezuelan Hammer” (I just made that up) Alejandro Segovia.

Safe to say, the situation after Hector Guevara laid down a bunt to advance the runners was intense. Nonetheless, Miracle manager Doug Mientkiewicz elected to intentionally walk Malm.

And on what was supposed to be the easiest thing for a pitcher to do, Jones sailed a pitch over the head of catcher Matt Koch. The mishap allowed Shaffer to score on the play, deflating the confidence of the Fort Myers team that included super-stellar prospect Byron Buxton.

Eventually Malm was able to get his free pass to first base, and in the meantime, Kes Carter pinch ran for Segovia, who had made his way to third on Shaffer’s score.

A pop out by Jake DePew put Jones one out away from ending the nightmare, but a Jake Hager walk only extended the inning further.

Then the bad dream became even worse.

Yet AGAIN, an errant pitch by Jones allowed a run to score as Charlotte held a commanding 2-0 lead heading into the bottom of the frame. Safe to say, it was too much for Fort Myers to overcome.

It’s not too often that I get to feel the way I do. I’m far from a professional athlete; I actually listened to the game while I was brushing up on some Contracts reading in my course book.

I’m also far from the guy that had a stellar year that saw him earn a 1.85 ERA in 48 2/3 innings this year.

Jones, at 22, has more money than what I’ll probably have in the next 15 years, and he’s certainly done everything the Twins organization can ask of him at this point as he continues his quest to the majors.

He’s also able to take part of an experience that I can only dream of.

But something like two surrendered runs on separate wild pitches can mess with a guy’s psyche. The title of prospect can quickly diminish to just that of minor leaguer with a lack of confidence. The promise that opened a career can suddenly lead down a very bad path.

It’s one of those times that I’m glad I’m able to eat potato chips whenever I please. (As an aside, I can only imagine how the Internet would react if the video was readily available.)

So please hold Zach Jones in your thoughts today. I know that may be a little silly to read, but the day he went through is about as tough as anybody can go through in any career, combined with the fact that baseball just might be the world to him.

That is, as much as you can feel for a guy that’s already living his dream.

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