The Dodgers optioned infielder Blake DeWitt to Triple-A Albuquerque after the game on Sunday and then optioned outfielder Jamie Hoffmann to Albuquerque yesterday. To replace the two on the roster, the club recalled catcher A.J. Ellis yesterday and purchased the contract of power-hitting infielder/outfielder Mitch Jones today.
Remember how hard we pulled for Terry Tiffee last year? For some reason, I’ve always been obsessed with guys who obliterate minor league pitching, yet don’t get a chance to prove themselves in the bigs despite the cost being almost literally zero. I mentioned here a few weeks ago that Jones was going to be this year’s Tiffee, but I hadn’t gotten around yet to explaining why. Well, no time like the present, right?
Here’s why you should love Mitch Jones: because he has nothing if not absolutely absurd video game power. Oh, sure, he’ll strike out a lot – anywhere from a quarter to a third of his plate appearances the last four years, and that’s only in AAA – but he’s also leading the PCL in homers and was highest among active PCL players in SLG (Jake Fox has since been called up to Chicago). Over the last three years as a Dodger farmhand, he’s hit 56 homers… which may not sound all that impressive until you realize he did that in just 655 at-bats, or roughly a full season.
If the thought alone of having an all or nothing strikeout/homer machine doesn’t grab you, then tell me that his story isn’t worth rooting for him. He’s 31 years old, has been poking around the minors since as far back as 2000, and is still looking for his first major league appearance. While the jaded among you may say “uh, that’s because he sucks”, it goes further than that. This is from an ESPN story last season on career minor leaguers who may have missed their chance due to choosing not to take steroids:
What happened to Jones on May 19, 2006, alone ought to be worth a few mil in punitive damages. He was in Richmond when the Yankees called him up, emergency style. He raced to the airport, flew to LaGuardia, got in a cab, had to talk his way into Yankee Stadium, picked up his uniform, called his dad to tell him (“I’d always dreamed of the day I’d make that call,” Jones says), sat next to Sheffield in the dugout (oh, irony!) and … never got into the game.
Afterward, Joe Torre called him into his office and said, “Man, I hate to do this to you, but we’re sending you back down.” Jones was, naturally, crushed. But the worst part was still to come:
“I had to call my dad back.”
He hasn’t been up since.
Now Jones is in the Dodger organization, and guess who’s the Dodger manager? Torre.
Guess who’s still the Dodger manager? Joe Torre. I’m not usually one to put emotion ahead of winning games – how could I, with a soul as black as a steer’s tukus on a moonless night – but if Jones somehow has to be on yet another team with Torre and Joe doesn’t find a way to get him an at-bat here or there? I’ll have no problem with looking the other way while Mitch does what needs to be done.
Mark it: when it finally happens, when he finally gets a major league at-bat, Jones is going to hit one about 800 feet. We’ll all love him. Then he’ll strike out eleven times in a row. So it has been written; so it shall be done.