By Tray Briggs, For the Kent Reporter
Taylor Jones of the Houston Astros joined a Zoom call with Kentwood High School students Feb. 4 where he took questions from players about life as a pro baseball player.
Jones talked about his journey from Kentwood to Gonzaga University, then into pro ball. Jones is a 2012 grad of Kentwood and was a member of the 2012 state baseball Kent Reporter team as well as the 2010 state basketball Kent Reporter team.
During the talk, Jones gave his perspective into what it takes to achieve the dream of making a Major League Baseball team and what’s required of student athletes to make that leap to the majors.
Jones described the ups and downs, specifically when he was sent down to Triple A, but recognized that his journey involved players at the top of their craft and veteran players who understand how to play the game.
“The key is taking all failures and mentally adjusting to get yourself right while mentally preparing for what’s in front of you,” Jones said.
The meeting was set up in a Q&A format and was moderated by Kentwood head baseball coach Mark Zender in a classroom at the high school. The Kentwood students were interested in a myriad of things regarding playing in the major leagues.
Jones said he was returning and speaking to these future baseball prospects to give advice and key habits that helped him reach his goal of playing in the majors. During the talk, Kentwood student Jack Coleman was interested in what it took for Jones to make the big leagues. Jones said that he’d always envisioned his path.
“I use visualization,” Jones said. “It’s an important process in my preparation. I sit in a room with my eyes closed and focus. The idea is to visualize yourself going through the actions and see yourself succeed in the game. It will manifest itself, make it feel like you’ve been there before.”
Kentwood senior Tobie Maurer wanted to know how the Astros use analytics in their training — and Jones was effusive.
“The Astros are at the top of the league when it comes to analytics,” Jones said. “They got the game wired down to numbers and probability.”
Zender even got in on the questions during the Zoom session with Jones. He wanted to know how Jones prepares for the season to start in a regular year.
“The biggest advice I could give really is mainly the preparation, the game planning and going the extra mile and also just to let yourself be yourself,” Jones said. “The main thing is feeling a sense of belonging that you do deserve to be there and knowing that confidence is key.”
The interview was lively, energetic and informative, and that seemed to have a positive impact on the players who were in good spirits. Many thanked Jones for taking the time out to attend.
At the end of the meeting, Kentwood senior Coleman personally thanked Jones for his time and asked what he missed most about high school baseball.
“Knowing you’re with the people you enjoy,” Jones said, “who are mostly just your high school friends and enjoying the game at its most basic level.”