NATCHITOCHES – Right-handed pitcher Nathan Jones concluded his four-year Northwestern State career in the top 10 in four different statistical categories.
The New York Mets thought even more highly of Jones, selecting him in the fifth round of the 2019 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday afternoon.
As the 148th overall selection, Jones, a product of Shreveport’s Loyola College Prep, became the highest-drafted Demon since Minnesota tabbed Mason Melotakis with its second-round selection in 2012.
The Mets’ decision to select Jones made him the first Southland Conference player chosen in this year’s draft and gave the Demons a second straight season with a top-seven-round pick. Milwaukee chose David Fry in the seventh round in the 2018 draft.
He is the third Demon drafted in the past two years, joining Fry and outfielder Kwan Adkins (30th round, San Francisco).
“I’ve said it before, Nathan’s probably the hardest-working pitcher I’ve been around,” said head coach Bobby Barbier, who also served as Jones’ pitching coach in the right-hander’s freshman season. “He deserves every bit of what he’s got and what he’s made himself into. He’s the model that shows you can really work yourself into a prospect. He did that. I’m very proud of Nathan and glad he represents Northwestern State.”
A second-team All-Southland Conference selection as a senior, Jones posted a career-best seven wins, going 7-4 with a 2.78 ERA. He struck out 80 batters in 81 innings and was the only Southland Conference pitcher to throw multiple complete-game shutouts in the regular season, blanking McNeese and Stephen F. Austin in back-to-back starts. Both of his shutouts came on less than 100 pitches.
Jones began his career at the back end of the Northwestern State bullpen before spending the final three seasons as a weekend starter.
He finished his Demons career in the top 10 in starts (44, T-2nd), strikeouts (223, 4th), innings pitched (308, 5th) and appearances (65, 6th).
“It hasn’t set in yet,” Jones said approximately 30 minutes after being selected. “I’m in shock. It’s crazy how everything can change – going from being nobody to constantly working hard to be the best you can be. Seeing it pay of a little bit and getting rewarded for it is surreal.”
Jones said he and his advisor had conversations with the Mets on Tuesday morning, and the team told Jones to be ready for a possible fourth-round selection.
Once New York opted to take Mississippi State center fielder Jake Mangum, the Southeastern Conference’s all-time hits leader, the Mets told Jones to be on standby for the fifth and sixth rounds.
They made the decision early, sending the Jones’ household in Shreveport into a frenzy.
“It was crazy,” Jones said. “My family and I were sitting there watching, and they called my name. Everyone’s still going nuts.”
The draft continues through the 10th round today before concluding with rounds 11-40 on Wednesday.