Home News How prospect Spencer Jones got a sneak peek of life as a Yankee

How prospect Spencer Jones got a sneak peek of life as a Yankee

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Spencer Jones, the Yankees’ first-round pick in last year’s amateur draft, will make his New York City debut as a professional player when his High-A Hudson Valley Renegades visit the Brooklyn Cyclones on Tuesday.

While it will be the 22-year-old’s first game in the five boroughs, Jones — considered the Yankees’ third-best prospect by MLB Pipeline — has already spent time at Yankee Stadium.

It was last October, after Jones finished with Low-A Tampa, when Jones told some friends he wanted to go to a playoff game in The Bronx.

The 6-foot-6 Jones went unrecognized on the subway up to the Game 2 of the ALDS against the Guardians and spent time before the game roaming the stands.

“It was cool,’’ Jones said by phone this weekend. “I’d never been there and it was something I wanted to experience.”

His observations included some things most fans could relate to.

“All the traffic outside the stadium was crazy, but all the people were great,’’ Jones said.

Once inside, Jones tried to take it all in.

“I was just like a kid in a candy shop, enjoying everything that was out there,’’ Jones said. “I had no idea what it would be like inside since I’d never seen it other than [in] pictures and video games.”

Ginacarlo Stanton’s first-inning home run in Game 2 of the ALDS last fall gave Spencer Jones a taste of the energy a Yankee Stadium crowd can generate.
Getty Images

After a first-inning Giancarlo Stanton home run faded in an eventual 10-inning Yankees loss, Jones and his group took the subway back to his hotel.

“Just the amount of people was incredible,’’ Jones said. “It was probably the most crowded subway car I’ve ever been on in my life.”

His takeaway from the night came as much off the field as on it.

“What I remember most is how passionate the fans are,’’ Jones said. “I love that. Passion is important. That’s why we play the sport. They take it as seriously as we do.”

With the size the Yankees value and a lefty swing that should work well in Yankee Stadium, Jones’ path to getting to The Bronx as a player has generally gone well so far.

After his second three-hit game in three days, Jones got his OPS up to .875 and has 10 homers.

He also has 82 strikeouts, though, by far the most on the team, in a team-high 250 plate appearances.

“I’m confident with how I’m playing,’’ Jones said. “This year is a learning process. There’s a lot of ups and downs and I’m learning about my swing and approach. … I don’t want to be a guy that strikes out a lot, so we’re working on seeing the ball better and making good swing decisions.”

Hudson Valley hitting coach Kevin Martir said he’s not overly concerned about the strikeout numbers and is more encouraged by how Jones broke out of a recent slump.

New York Yankees first round pick Spencer Jones #35 of the Tampa Tarpons drives this pitch over the fence for a home run during the MiLB Florida State League (Low A) regular season game between the Dunedin Blue Jays and the Tampa Tarpons on September 01, 2022, at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, FL.
Jones’ 6-foot-6 frame and left-handed swing seem tailor-made for a spot in the Yankees outfield.
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“We sat down and made some adjustments to his routine to get him back to where he is now,’’ Martir said. “He hasn’t gone through a lot of down times as a player and he didn’t allow it to become a sinkhole.”

A two-way player his first two seasons at Vanderbilt — both impacted by COVID — Jones underwent Tommy John surgery before becoming a full-time position player as a junior.

In 61 games for the Commodores last season, Jones put up his best numbers before the Yankees made him the 25th overall pick in the draft.

Jones hit well with Tampa last season and has spent this year with Hudson Valley, playing center. A move to Double-A Somerset is complicated by the fact the Yankees’ top prospect, Jasson Dominguez plays center there now.

In the meantime, Martir has him trying to improve his launch angle to create more power and take advantage of his ability to create exit velocities from 100-110 MPH.

“You usually don’t get guys his size that are athletes who are as coordinated as he is,’’ Martir said. “He moves well, runs well and has flashes of power.”

Perhaps down the road, he’ll be back at Yankee Stadium — to play.

Jones said that thought was on his mind “a little bit” as he wandered the stadium last October.

“It was just nice to get a sense of what the place is all about,’’ Jones said.

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It’s getting late early for the Mets

St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado (28) rounds the bases on his game-winning goo-ahead home run off New York Mets relief pitcher Adam Ottavino (0) during the ninth inning when the New York Mets played the St. Louis Cardinals Sunday, June 18, 2023 at Citi Field in Queens, NY
Adam Ottavino contemplates what went wrong on Sunday as the Cardinals’ Nolan Arenado circles the bases in the ninth inning with what would be a series-winning homer.
Robert Sabo for the NY Post

Max Scherzer had one of his best starts in years on Monday night in Houston, pitching eight innings as a Met for the first time. And the offense erupted for 11 runs, their second-biggest output of the season, sparked by the suddenly surging Francisco Lindor’s five RBIs.

It was a promising start to an important road trip, as the Mets have put themselves in a sizable hole, having entered the game just 33-38 and 12 ½ games back of first-place Atlanta.

The last time the Mets were five games under .500 this late in the season was in 2019, when they were 35-40 on June 19 in a season that ended with them finishing as also-rans in the NL East. The last time they were as many as 12 ½ games back in the division in June was in 2017, when they finished 22 games under .500 in Terry Collins’ final season in the dugout.

So how do they avoid a similar fate this season?

First, they have to keep Pete Alonso healthy after the first baseman returned from his left wrist sprain and bone bruise weeks earlier than expected.

Next, they must finally figure out their pitching.

Scherzer has pitched better of late, but only Kodai Senga has come close to living up to expectations in the rotation. And the bullpen, mostly outside of David Robertson, has been especially unreliable.

They haven’t won a series since completing a sweep of the Phillies on June 1.

Even a visit from the last-place Cardinals couldn’t fix the Mets, who dropped two of three over the weekend.

They’ll spend the next week visiting the struggling Astros in Houston (where they picked up a much-needed 11-1 win Monday night) before heading to Philadelphia, where the surging Phillies recently won six straight.

Also worrisome is the fact that both the lineup and pitching staff have disappointed.

Through Monday, the offense ranked 14th in the majors in runs this year (in large part courtesy of a four-place jump after Monday’s offensive explosion), compared to fifth in 2022 and the staff’s ERA, after placing seventh last season, is now 24th.

Pete Alonso #20 of the New York Mets in action against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on June 19, 2023 in Houston, Texas.
A Mets offense that has struggled to score without Pete Alonso in the lineup has gotten a boost from his early return from a wrist injury.
Getty Images

So far, the talk of emulating last year’s Phillies, the 2021 Braves and 2019 Nationals, all NL East teams that overcame sluggish starts to reach the World Series, has proven to be just that: talk.

It remains to be seen if the Mets can find a spark — or if they can make the necessary additions in the next six weeks prior to the trade deadline — to become a threat.

You gotta have heart

It isn’t all doom and gloom around the Mets.

Grant Hartwig was called up to the Mets from Triple-A Syracuse on Monday, and pitched a scoreless ninth inning in his major league debut.

Hartwig nearly gave up baseball after he went undrafted in 2021 following his senior year at Miami of Ohio. Hartwig, who graduated with a degree in pre-med and microbiology, signed up for the MCAT and considered applying to medical school.

Two years after almost leaving baseball for medical school, Grant Hartwig made it onto a major league roster with th Mets.
Corey Sipkin for the NY Post

But the Mets called shortly after the draft and Hartwig signed with the team.

After struggling early at Syracuse for much of this season, he pitched better of late, allowing two runs in eight innings in his previous seven appearances before his promotion.

Let the healing begin…

Gio Reyna has made plenty of news over the last year, and little of it in the way he’d like, as the 20-year-old U.S. men’s national soccer team talent was caught in the middle of a bizarre scandal that mostly involved his parents and once and future USMNT head coach, Gregg Berhalter.

But Reyna showed Sunday what makes him special on the field, with two assists in a 2-0 win over Canada in the final of the CONCACAF Nations League.

“Gio’s performance [Sunday] is a performance that you expect,’’ U.S. interim manager B.J. Callaghan said following the match. “It shows his quality on the field, his ball security, his ability to take on two, three players and connect passes.”

Gio Reyna #7 of USA races towards the goal during the CONCACAF Nations League Final game between United States and Canada at Allegiant Stadium on June 18, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Gio Reyna’s two assists helped give the U.S. a 2-0 lead they would not relinquish in their win over Canada in the Nations League final.
Getty Images

The next step will be for Reyna to be productive when Berhalter is back.

Callaghan will continue in his interim role in the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup, but Berhalter, whose contract with the team expired on Dec. 31 last year, regained his old job last week after an investigation involving a report of domestic violence against his now-wife that dated back to when they were college students three decades ago did not find he had improperly withheld the information from US Soccer.

The allegation surfaced because Reyna’s parents, former national team members Claudio and Danielle — who were friends with Berhalter and his wife, Rosalind — were upset about Gio’s lack of playing time in last year’s World Cup and went public.

Berhalter also took aim at Gio Reyna’s attitude — without naming him — while speaking at a conference following the tournament in a speech he thought was off the record.

At last week’s press conference to introduce Berhalter — again — as the head coach of USMNT, Berhalter said he had not spoken to Reyna since the World Cup.

Giovanni Reyna (7) and head coach Gregg Berhalter (R) of USA during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Netherlands and USA at Khalifa International Stadium on December 03, 2022 in Doha, Qatar.
Gio Reyna and coach Gregg Berhalter will have to get through some awkward conversations if they are to mend their strained relationship.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Of their relationship, Berhalter added, “I would certainly acknowledge that there is work to do. Gio is an important player for this team. He’s an extremely talented individual and I have the obligation and the commitment to coach him like I coach any other player… I want to get the best out of him [and] we want to get the best out of him. And we know that if we can unlock his talents, he can be a game-changer for this program.”

That process will have to begin soon.

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