DENVER – Former Carson-Newman catcher Greg Jones signed a minor-league deal with the Colorado Rockies to join the organization Thursday morning to continue his professional baseball career with a Major League Baseball franchise.
"It means everything to me," Jones said. "As a baseball player growing up, it's all we dream about – getting that minor league or major league deal. To have that opportunity set in front of me, I'm very grateful for that opportunity."
The Maryville, Tenn. becomes the 23rd Carson-Newman player to be picked up by a Major League organization since Pryor McElveen spent three seasons with the Brooklyn Superbas from 1909-11. Jones becomes the Eagle since 2012 to become a member of a big league club when Kyle Koeneman spent time in the Arizona Diamondbacks system.
In early January, the catcher will journey to Scottsdale, Ariz., the home of the Rockies spring training facility, to enter the early camp ahead of spring training. The plan is to send Jones to the Boise Hawks, the short-season affiliate of Colorado with opening day scheduled for June 15, 2018.
For the Eagles, he was named second-team All-South Atlantic Conference following his senior season in 2017. He became the seventh C-N catcher to earn a spot on an all-conference team and first since Wes Ward was a second-team pick in 2003.
"Without him I don't think that I would be where I am at today," Jones said of coach Tom Griffin. "I've always been a pretty good offensive player. Defensively, he saw the flaws in me and we continue to work it today but he saw it from the start. We have done that for the past four-and-a-half years now and I'm very grateful for that."
The senior ranked fourth in the league with 13 home runs, third in runs batted in and 37th nationally with 58 RBIs and sixth in the conference in slugging percentage at .656. His 107 total bases were good for 11th in the SAC in 2017.
The catcher tallied 16 multi-hit games in 2017 and led the team with 17 multi-RBI efforts. As a backstop, Jones threw out 52 percent of would-be base stealers and led the team with five pick-offs.
Jones led the team when batting with runners in scoring position posting a .455 average, 25-for-55, and posted a .377 batting average, 20-for-53, against left-handed pitching.
The 2017 SAC All-Tournament team selection led all players in the field with 20 total bases going 13-for-25, .520, with two home runs and seven runs driven in and five runs scored. After having just one game with more than two hits during his senior year, the Maryville, Tenn. native notched two three-hit games and a four-hit afternoon in the final three contests of his career. The catcher went 4-for-5 with a home run against third-seeded Newberry and came back late Sunday night to go 3-for-5 with a home run, three RBIs and two runs scored against 15th-ranked and top-seeded Catawba.
Upon graduating, Jones signed a deal with the Utica Unicorns of the United Shore Professional Baseball League on June 20, 2017. The Volunteer State native played in 22 games compiling a .253 batting average with two home runs and 14 RBIs. He smacked a two-run bomb in his league debut and closed the season with three multi-hit efforts in his final six games.
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