BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
Arkansas baseball signee Jayson Jones has had a busy summer that has all been leading up to the next few days.
That’s when Jones (6-2, 210) is expected to be taken in the three-day Major League Baseball draft, which begins with the first two rounds on Sunday night at 6 p.m.
‘I don’t have any big plans,” Jones said. “I am probably go to church in the morning, get in a little bit of fishing and of course get in my workouts and probably hit a bit. I’ll have a few of my friends come down and join me and my family and I am sure there will be some fist bumps and high fives no matter where I go.”
The shortstop/third base prospect from Denton (Texas) Braswell, where he hit .397 as a senior, is viewed at the 152nd-best prospect in the draft by MLB.com and 216th by ESPN.
“I’m definitely excited either way, whether I end up coming to Arkansas or starting my professional career,” Jones said. “I am beyond blessed to be in this situation and am just trying to be around my family and have the most fun with with it.”
“I have a number and I am going to stick to it,” Jones said. “I don’t want to sell myself short. My family and my advisers, we came up with pros and cons. I’m very confident in that list and I know that either way I am going to be ecstatic and hyped whether it is going to Arkansas or supporting Arkansas from wherever I am at. I am going to be a Hog for life.”
Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn along with assistants Nate Thompson and Matt Hobbs, would love to have Jones on next season’s roster.
“Jayson is a guy that a year ago sitting here, I would’ve said that it’s going to be really tough to get him to school,” Van Horn said. “He came to his visit in September, absolutely loved it, loved the feeling. I think he relaxed a little bit. I think if he comes to school here, he’ll have a lot of success.”
Jones, who recently attended freshman orientation in Fayetteville, chose Arkansas over Texas A&M, TCU, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Alabama, Oklahoma State and others back in July of 2020.
“I fell in love with Arkansas as soon as I stepped on campus, which I think was my sophomore year,” Jones said. “…The facilities were off the charts. Coach Van Horn, Coach Thompson and Coach Hobbs and all the professionalism they bring to the game is amazing. It is the best coaching staff in the country with the best facilities and also the best fans, too.
“I just knew that Arkansas was a no-brainer. I was like ‘dude, where else would you want to play but Arkansas?’”
Jones was impressed with how the Razorbacks shook off some late-season struggles to finish third at the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
“They got kind of hit in the mouth a little bit, but they bounced back with the grit and the grind that they had,” Jones said. “It was great to see how they handled adversity. They are dawgs up there. That program is at the top of the SEC every year.
“It doesn’t really matter who is there, the coaches just make it work and hold everybody accountable. This season didn’t end like we wanted it to unfortunately, but a trip to Omaha is always what we are looking for.”
Jones was one of 250 players that participated in the MLB Draft combine June 14-20 in San Diego.
Jones hit four home runs of over 400 feet during the event, both with exit velocity of over 109 miles per hour.
“The combine was amazing and a great experience,” Jones said. “I just felt like I was playing in my backyard again. It was awesome and I had a lot of fun.”
Baseball America’s prospect report said “Jones has one of the more explosive swings in the class, with bat speed, natural strength and impressive rotation and torque that translate to plus raw power and impact potential.”
Jones has played shortstop, but is also viewed as a third base prospect.
“I definitely would like to stick to shortstop, but a lot of people have me listed as a third baseman because I am a bigger dude,” Jones said. “I did run some great times at the combine and ultimately I am just trying to keep my conditioning high so I can stick at short.
“But if not, third base is definitely a secondary position that I have always played. Hopefully I can stick to the left side of the field, but I am open to playing anywhere. I am very versatile. My summer coach actually played me all over the entire field.”
Jones’ dad Tim played at Texas Pan-American, was drafted by the Detroit Tigers and played in the New York Yankees minor league system.
His mom Kim played basketball at Pan American and older brother Jordan currently pitches for Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Jones was reminded of his affinity for Arkansas when he was in Fayetteville for freshman orientation.
“Gosh, it is a beautiful campus,” Jones said. “There is no doubt in my mind that I would love taking classes there. It is amazing. There is definitely a different feel to Arkansas than there is anywhere else in the country. I absolutely fell in love with it.”