Brock Jones grew up playing football and dreaming of someday playing in the NFL. He also played baseball but favored football and viewed it as his primary sport.
It wasn’t until high school that Jones started to think differently about his future occupation. He drew attention from professional scouts leading up to the 2019 MLB draft and realized baseball was likely his better sport.
That didn’t stop Jones from playing both sports in college, though. Jones was a member of the football and baseball teams as a freshman at Stanford University in 2019-20. Although he played in 11 football games on special teams, Jones decided to focus solely on baseball after his freshman year.
It was the right decision, as Jones’ future is clearly on the diamond. Jones is eligible for the 2022 draft, and scouts project the outfielder as a potential first-round pick.
“It helps to go through the draft process in high school,” Jones said. “Sometimes, it did get the best of me because I wasn’t very mature. Now I know I’m not playing for them. There were moments when I thought I had to please this person or that person in high school. I know I need to be myself and go play, and the rest will take care of itself.”
As a freshman, Jones hit .228 with one home run and four RBIs in 57 at-bats in 16 games in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
Last year, Jones made significant strides and was one of the best hitters in college baseball. He posted a .311 batting average with 13 doubles, 18 home runs and 62 RBIs in 206 at-bats in 56 games. He also stole 14 bases.
Jones is a 6-foot, 203-pound left-handed hitting outfielder who is a well-rounded player with five-tool potential. He uses a simple swing and quiet setup at the plate. He has solid strike zone recognition and consistently squares up the baseball to drive it to all parts of the field.
Besides his ability to hit for average and power, Jones is highly athletic and uses his speed on the bases.
“My biggest strength for me isn’t even a skillset,” Jones said. “It’s a mindset for me. Having confidence in myself is probably one of my biggest strengths. Just being confident in times of struggle is important. It is a game of failure, and you are going to fail seven times out of 10 and still be one of the best in baseball.”
Defensively, Jones split time between left field and center field last year. This season, Jones likely will play center field. He has solid athleticism and can handle both positions. He has average arm strength but has worked on improving that in the offseason.
Besides improving his defensive skills, Jones wants to refine his skills at the plate.
“You have to be a good hitter, and good hitters always play,” Jones said. “For me, lowering strikeouts is one of my big things. Being comfortable in uncomfortable situations is important, whether that’s having two strikes or runners on base. I want to have good team at-bats.”
Last season, Stanford posted a 39-17 record and advanced to the College World Series for the first time since 2008.
The Cardinal hope they can build on last year’s finish and return to the College World Series this season.
The Cardinal haven’t won the national title since winning it in back-to-back years in 1987-88. They last played in the championship series in 2003, which marked their third runner-up finish in four years.
“I am here to lead this team to a national championship and get that for the coaching staff, team and myself,” Jones said. “That’s a personal goal of mine. We got there last year. But we have a lot still left in the tank and more to prove. I’m trying not to focus on the draft and be present where my feet are.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for seven years. He has interviewed 356 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.