Rookie discusses disappointing year
Outfielder Jones' future with Braves possibly in doubt
ST. LOUIS -- At this time last year, the Braves were thinking Brandon Jones would spend this season platooning in left field with Matt Diaz. Those plans were nixed during Spring Training, and now Jones has to wonder where he might be playing in 2009.
"I was expecting to do better, especially after the season I put up last year," Jones said. "My power numbers have been disappointing this year."
After starting this season with Triple-A Richmond, Jones was recalled to the Atlanta roster. In 16 games with the Braves, he hit .278 with five doubles, one home run and four RBIs. The audition didn't prove good enough to keep him in the Major Leagues, and it created doubt about his future with the organization.
When Jones combined to hit .295 with 19 homers and 100 RBIs with Double-A Mississippi and Richmond last year, Baseball America named him the fourth-best prospect in the Braves organization.
But while hitting .260 with eight home runs and 52 RBIs in 95 games with Richmond this season, he's proven to be a bit of a disappointment. Three of those eight homers came during the three games he played before being brought back to the Majors on Wednesday to fill the roster spot created when Casey Kotchman was placed on the bereavement list.
Further doubt about Jones' future with the Braves was provided when he wasn't put in the starting lineup until Sunday's series finale against the Cardinals. During the four previous games, manager Bobby Cox had used Omar Infante and Gregor Blanco as his starting left fielder.
"This spring, I got off to a bad start because I was putting too much pressure on myself," said Jones, who hit .211 with no home runs in 38 Grapefruit League games this year. "Next year, I have to start off better. The home runs will come."
As the Braves look toward next season, they feel they have to upgrade with the acquisition of a power-hitting left fielder. They almost gained one during the final week of July, when they worked out a deal to send Brent Lillibridge, Jones and two lower-level Minor League players to the Pirates in exchange for Jason Bay.
When Pirates ownership nixed that deal, Jones was denied a potential opportunity to prove he can be productive as an everyday player at the Major League level. Now he's just hoping to get that same opportunity again with the Braves.
"The only thing I can do is to keep playing," Jones said.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.