The Brooklyn Cyclones saw a bunch of new faces this season with the addition of a few 2019 draft picks and players from Kingsport. Of those athletes, RHP Nathan Jones began his professional career against the Aberdeen Ironbirds (Baltimore Orioles, Single-A Short Season) on Monday, June, 17.
Jones, the Mets’ fifth-round draft pick, struck out the first two batters he faced in a Cyclones uniform. For his first career start, he pitched two innings and struck out five only allowing one walk and one base runner.
“I’ll take that any day, any time. Especially for him being a new guy first time out. He’s showing me that he’s gotten morning, so I kind of can’t wait to see him back on the mound in a couple of days and see what he’s got,” said Cyclones pitching coach Josué Matos.
Jones struck out the side in the second inning and walking off the mound he said he felt, “Just excited man, just happy to be here. Kind of wish I could go a little more, but I was on a short start to until further notice, but just happy with how it went for the first outing and build off of that and see if I can make some improvements.”
The Cyclones went on to win 4-1 game against the Ironbirds. Jones was planned to only pitch two innings and was followed by RHP Garrison Bryant, who pitched in Kingsport last season.
During his college career at Northwestern State University, he finished 7-4 in the 2019 season with a 2.78 ERA, seventh in the Southland Conference. He was ninth in strikeouts (80) and held the opposing offense to a .209 batting average (fourth).
Transitioning from pitching at a college level to a professional level is challenging. Facing batters a pitcher has never faced before, Jones said the competition was the biggest adjustment from the collegiate level to the minors.
“Everybody in the lineup is someone that can hurt you. So being able to stay focused every pitch, every at-bat when everybody can do some damage,” said Jones.
Originally from Shreveport, LA, the right-handed pitcher led his team in innings pitched with 103 in 16 starts during the 2018 season. Jones reached a career-high ten strikeouts in a complete game against Southeastern Louisiana University.
His ERA struggled during the 2017 season at 4.86 but decreased the following two seasons. His final college ERA was 3.65 with 223 strikeouts. Jones is the second highest draft pick out of Northwestern State behind LHP Mason Melotakis in the 2 round. Melotakis was selected by Minnesota back in 2012 but never made it past AAA.
Matos said during Jones’ first career start his fastball was working, but he was struggling with his breaking ball. Matos said of his breaking ball “he’s got a good one. He’s working on a changeup.”
Before Jones’ start, Matos said to him, “Have fun doing what they’re doing, for the last couple of years in college and just the same thing.”