In our second edition of Forgotten Mariners Friday, we take a look back at outfielder James Jones, a once-promising prospect who many fans thought had the potential to take over as the long-term center fielder in Seattle.
James Jones was a 4th-round draft pick by the Mariners in the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft out of Long Island University-Brooklyn, who were drawn to his 6’3″ frame and electrifying speed. He experienced a slow progression through the Minors, but was finally called up in 2014 to a Mariners team desperate for young talent.
Jones came in hot after his call-up, hitting .462 through his first eight games, and .321 through his first 18. After that tear, he slowed up considerably, and finished the 2014 season with a .250/.278/.311 slash line; not exactly the production Seattle was looking for from their leadoff hitter. Jones eventually lost his starting job to trade deadline acquisition Austin Jackson, but he did steal a team-high 27 bases, an encouraging sign for a team in need of speed on the base paths.
Despite his hopes of making Seattle’s Opening Day roster in 2015, Jones performed poorly in Spring Training and wasn’t called up until June 15th. He hit only .103 in 31 plate appearances with just one stolen base during the regular season, and hasn’t appeared in the Major Leagues since.
James Jones has stayed relevant in the Minors since 2015; he’s spent the last six seasons playing in the Texas Rangers organization, splitting time between the Round Rock Express (AAA), Down East Wood Ducks, Frisco RoughRiders, and Nashville Sounds. Similar to Trayvon Robinson (another Forgotten Mariner), Jones has been able to keep his pro career alive, but it’s unlikely we’ll see him make a run at Jarred Kelenic’s starting job in center field for the Mariners in 2022.