Threshers' Jones fans 11 in latest gem
In a Phillies system deep with pitching, Damon Jones stands out a little more with each start.The left-hander took a perfect game into the sixth inning and recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts as Class A Advanced Clearwater blanked Dunedin, 3-0, on Saturday at Spectrum Field. He allowed two hits and
In a Phillies system deep with pitching,
The left-hander took a perfect game into the sixth inning and recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts as Class A Advanced Clearwater blanked Dunedin, 3-0, on Saturday at Spectrum Field. He allowed two hits and didn't walk a batter over seven frames, matching the deepest he's pitched into a game in his career.
Gameday box score
Jones (3-3) remained perfect through five innings, with leadoff hitter and No. 25 Blue Jays prospect Cal Stevenson working the only three-ball count during that span.
"It's always in the back of your head," Jones said of the possible perfection. "I don't think you can not look at the scoreboard or listen to people talk about it. I don't know. You can kind of pick it up. You can try to zone out and get on and keep going. When I gave it up, it was actually a sigh of relief from their team, and I just had to get right back on it."
The left-hander did that by fanning Stevenson to end the threat. He entered the seventh for the first time this season, having thrown 75 pitches.
The Phillies took the Idaho Falls native out of Washington State in the 18th round of the 2017 Draft. He spent that summer working out of the bullpen for Class A Short Season Williamsport before starting last season for Class A Lakewood, where he struck out 123 batters over 113 1/3 innings while compiling a 3.41 ERA.
The move to the Florida State League has only boosted Jones' numbers. His 80 strikeouts lead the circuit. His 1.37 ERA would if he'd thrown enough innings to qualify. And after seven Phillies prospects struck out more batters than he did in 2018, he's surpassed them all. His 69 punchouts entering the weekend were 12 more than anyone else in the organization, and that was before his career night.
A four-pitch arsenal is how Jones racks up so many strikeouts. His fastball hovered between 94-96 mph Saturday, and its velocity stems in part from changes Jones made with help from Clearwater pitching coach
"I'm not really like a spin rate guy or anything like that," he said, "but for some reason my fastball just misses bats."
It paired best with his curveball on Saturday, a combo he called his "bread and butter." Sometimes the heater has played well with his changeup, the pitch he most wants to improve. Other times, it sets up the slider, which he tinkered with in the offseason to use a grip that separates his fingers to get on top of the ball.
"That's been hit or miss sometimes, but when it's on, it helps play off the curveball, too," Jones said. "So, it's been nice."
All of Jones' run support came in the fifth against Dunedin starter
Joe Bloss is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @jtbloss.