Bradley Jones' power has surprised a few people in the Appalachian League this season. On Thursday night, it even surprised Jones.
"I knew I was seeing ball pretty well, but you couldn't have told me I was going to hit three homers and have me believe it," he said.
Toronto's 18th-round pick did leave the yard three times, also doubling and walking while plating five runs to lead Rookie-level Bluefield to a 12-5 win over visiting Pulaski.
"It's a feeling of super excitement," Jones said. "This is the first time I've ever hit three in a game. I was glad the team could get a win too."
The three jacks gave the College of Charleston product the Appalachian League long-ball lead with 15, pulling him ahead of Pulaski's Dermis Garcia with 13. His 44 RBIs on the season tie him for the circuit lead with teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the seventh-ranked Toronto prospect, and Burlington's Chris DeVito.
"I knew the third baseman on the Yankees [Garcia] had quite a few [homers] and I knew how many I had, but I didn't know about anybody else, so that's news to me," he said. "It's special, to be honest with you. If you'd asked me two months ago, I never would have told you I was going to hit 15 homers. I'm just happy with the way things have worked out for me."
More than half of Jones' roundtrippers -- eight -- have come since Aug. 10.
"I wouldn't say I've found a power groove. It's more I've been patient at plate," he said. "That's been a struggle, especially at the beginning of the season being impatient sometimes, where I was swinging at pitches I shouldn't. Now, I'm being more confident and waiting for pitches I can do something with."
There was one person in the ballpark who saw the hat trick coming after Jones knocked a ball over the fence in left field in the first inning -- right-hander Yennsy Diaz.
"After I hit the first one, our starter said, 'You're going to hit two more home runs tonight,'" Jones recalled, "so he and I had kind of a special moment when I hit the third one."
He knocked another solo shot in the fourth -- this time to center -- and lined an RBI double to the left-center gap in the sixth. In the eighth, the right-handed hitter went the other way with a two-run homer.
"To be honest, I really don't know [what went through my head]," he said. "It was a great feeling to know it went out. It was just pure excitement. I've hit two [homers] two or three times before, but I've never hit three, so it was a great feeling."
The huge performance marked Jones' second five-RBI showing of the month, and he set a career high with seven RBIs on Aug. 12.
"It's awesome," Jones said. "A lot of credit goes to my teammates who have had good at-bats in front of me to put themselves in scoring position and given me the opportunity to drive them in. It's been a struggle at the beginning of the year to get runners in and get the easy RBIs that were basically given to me, but now I've settled down and it's been a lot easier."
Guerrero Jr. went 3-for-5 with two runs scored, falling a homer shy of the cycle.
Diaz (4-5) picked up the win, allowing a run on a hit and four walks while striking out five over five innings.
Josh Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @JoshJacksonMiLB.