Meet Hunter Jones
One of the new faces in Marlins camp is certainly no stranger to South Florida.
Lefty reliever Hunter Jones, acquired from the Red Sox as part of the Jeremy Hermida trade in November, is in the mix for a bullpen job.
The 26-year-old grew up in Palm Beach Gardens, and he went to Florida State.
The Marlins opened Spring Training on Saturday at Roger Dean Stadium. Other lefty relief candidates are Renyel Pinto, Dan Meyer and Taylor Tankersley.
Last year, Jones got a taste of the big leagues, appearing in 11 games for the Red Sox. The experience was rewarding and humbling. He posted a 9.24 ERA, and he was taken deep three times in 12 1/3 innings. Jones struck out nine and walked seven.
But two rough outings caused his ERA to inflate. Against Tampa Bay on May 9, he was tagged for four runs in two-thirds of an inning. And on Sept. 28 against the Blue Jays, he was charged with four runs in 1 2/3 innings.
On the flip side, he also enjoyed some success.
Jones showed he can be effective last April, when in four appearances, he allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings.
In the offseason, he has worked on getting more movement on his fastball, along with fine tuning his slider.
The Marlins are known for providing opportunity to young relievers. Jones hopes to continue the tradition.
“They’ve had a great track record, and hopefully I can add to that,” Jones said. “I feel like I’ve already had a fair shake. I look forward to going out there and competing.
“I feel the opportunity is greater for me here to compete. With that being said, being that I had pitched last year, and knowing what I needed to do to come into this season. I feel I’m better prepared.”
Growing up in South Florida, Jones was initially a Braves fan, because at the time, the Marlins and Rays weren’t around. And the Braves made West Palm Beach their Spring Training home. Jones attended a number of Spring Training games, and he would see players like Dale Murphy at the park.
Now he is in position where his family and friends can watch him in Jupiter.
“I feel the Marlins are definitely believing in me,” Jones said. “Whenever you get traded, you feel there is a better opportunity.”
The day Jones joined the Marlins was a hectic one. He learned he was being mentioned in the deal while preparing to catch a flight from Palm Beach to Las Vegas to attend his friends bachelor party.
“I was obviously excited,” he said. “It was kind of crazy because I was going to my best friends bachelor party in Vegas. I left a Red Sox and landed a Marlin. When I got there, everybody already knew. It was pretty cool. They all knew before me.”
– Joe Frisaro