The 21-year-old Jones, who has been a shortstop since the club took him as the first overall pick in the 1990 draft, will go to winter ball and will also be used at second or third base. While hitting .325 at Richmond with 13 home runs and 89 RBIs, Jones had trouble defensively, making 43 errors in 139 games.
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“They said at the end of the season they would sit down with me and talk about positions,” he said. “I think they have always kept me at shortstop because they wanted my confidence level to be real high, because that is what I came out of high school playing. I think I can play either second or third.”
Said general manager John Schuerholz, “We want to prepare him in as broad a fashion as possible. Who knows, he might be on our club as a swing man next year.”
It would appear the best move for Jones would be to third base, where Terry Pendleton has one more season on his contract. The Braves are set at shortstop after the season Jeff Blauser has had, and Mark Lemke, who has always been a defensive asset at second, has improved his hitting this season. Also, Blauser is only 27 and Lemke 28.
“I think I could go to third without any difficulty because that is very similar to short,” said Jones. “Second base is another story. I would probably need some more time in the minors to work on some things as far as the turn on the double play. I'm not sure what's going to happen. Offensively, I'm ready and a lot of my errors this year were mental ones. They came when we were either way up or way down, and had to do with concentration.”
Roster move: To make room on the 40-man roster for Jones, the Braves designated shortstop Hector Roa for assignment. This means the Braves have 10 days to trade Roa or try to push him through waivers. At Greenville this season, Roa hit .246 with six homers and 58 RBIs. Coming into the season, he was considered one of the club's top 20 prospects. ... Three other call-ups arrived from Richmond Friday - first basemen Ryan Klesko and Brian Hunter and left-handed reliever Pedro Borbon. Jones will wear No. 16, Hunter gets his old No. 14 back, Borbon will wear No. 51 and Klesko No. 18. ... For the first time in three days, Lemke was able to play catch before the game, but his left knee is still giving him problems and the earliest he is expected to return will be Tuesday against Cincinnati, when the club opens a six-game homestand. ... San Diego right fielder Tony Gwynn, who isn't expected to play in the series because of knee trouble, said he was very upset with the way the media treated his club when they were in Atlanta last week. "That part eats at me, and not being able to play made it that much more frustrating," he said.