Jones Settling In

"Bubba" had a three-hit game on Thursday

TAMPA, FL — After being selected by the New York Yankees in the 7th round of the 2011 draft, Austin "Bubba" Jones has faced and conquered many obstacles. Though drafted as a catcher, he has successfully transitioned to first baseman for the GCL Yankees. Jones is currently batting a .263 with eight doubles, but he still sees much room for improvement.

Austin "Bubba" Jones put in nothing but hard work to prepare for this season with the GCL Yankees.

"I pretty much just woke up, worked out and ate right for three months," said Jones, who lost nearly twenty pounds in the offseason.

He attributes this regimen to his recent weight loss, saying that his goal was simply to lose weight in fat and gain it back in muscle.

"I feel a lot more agile," Jones said. "I don't know what I look like, but I definitely feel better playing and I feel better hitting."

Jones isn't the only one noticing the changes he has made. GCL hitting coach Edwar Gonzalez has also taken note of Jones' efforts.

"He looked pretty good [during Spring Training]," Gonzalez said. "He was working hard on different stuff on his swing and he really improved a lot offensively and defensively.

"It's all because of his work ethic. He has a great work ethic, and it is paying off now."

Though hurt by the second half of Spring Training, Jones held it together and came back for all of Extended.

"I felt comfortable," Jones said. "I didn't get many hits, but I was comfortable every day just trying to stay focused.

"I worked on keeping my swing as consistent as possible, just the same thing every day," he said. "Consistency, that's what I was working on."

Jones' hard work has not gone unnoticed either, and it has helped him get off to a solid start to this GCL season.

"He's having a great season this year so far," Gonzalez said. "I give him a lot of credit. He has come and improved in every aspect of the game, and that doesn't come for free. It doesn't happen just because. He had to really work hard."

"My start this season was good," Jones said. "I think I've stayed focused, and we have been playing well.

"Personally, I've been doing everything I can, so I'm happy with that," he added. "I'm happy with the results."

In comparing this season with last season, Jones feels more comfortable now, and he feels that has helped him to improve his game.

"I mean I got here [last season] and didn't know what I was doing, where to be or what to do," Jones said. "I was just really uncomfortable. This year, I'm settled in and I'm ready to go."

Gonzalez feels the team has been pleased with Jones' performance and the transition he has made to first base.

"He has made a lot of great plays, a lot of big plays," Gonzalez said. "He continues to work on [his game], and I think it's going to keep improving. He has the potential to be a very good first baseman.

"He just needs to keep working, keep doing what he's doing," he added. "Eventually, it's going to show everything that he has. Obviously he's young and he's going to continue to get stronger.

"He has been working hard on that, and everything else is going to take care of itself because he has a great work ethic."

Jones has high hopes for his future in the pros.

"Going forward, I just want to try to stay focused every day," Jones said. "That's my main goal, to stay focused every single pitch. I'm working on that every day."

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