Nolan Jones came to the yard Monday expecting to have the night off. He left after turning in a career performance.
Cleveland's second-ranked prospect went 3-for-3, scoring a career-high four runs and driving in four, to fuel Class A Advanced Lynchburg's 11-5 win over Frederick at Calvin Falwell Field.
Gameday box score
Jones was supposed to sit out the series opener against the Keys, but when Indians No. 25 prospect Will Benson was scratched soon before first pitch, the 21-year-old was called into action.
"I wasn't supposed to DH," he said. "We had another guy that was supposed to DH and ended up not feeling good before the game, so I kind of had to turn it on a little bit."
Jones wasted no time doing so, stepping in against right-hander Blaine Knight in the first inning and delivering an RBI double to center field. That kick-started a four-run frame in response to three by the Keys to start the game. The 2016 second-rounder said it was necessary to keep the Hillcats in the game mentally.
"Going down three, it's not always easy to jump right back," Jones said. "Sometimes it's a momentum killer. But to get that going, and come back and put a four-spot up, that really shut that down."
MLB.com's No. 43 overall prospect homered to right off Knight in the third, scoring Oscar Gonzalez to put the Hillcats ahead, 6-4. When Jones got back into the dugout, he received the silent treatment from his teammates, something he said was a playful jab at the fact he wasn't even supposed to be in the game.
"It was funny," the Pennsylvania native said. "I think that's what makes this game so fun. There's so many ways to enjoy it, make it fun. Just like I said, messing with the teammates, it was all fun."
In the fourth, he worked a bases-loaded walk off left-hander Luis Perez that scored Steven Kwan. Jones drew another walk off Perez in the seventh before crossing the plate on a homer by Mitch Reeves, and in the eighth, after beating out a single to third off righty Diogenes Almengo came around again on Reeves' double.
All in all, Jones accounted for seven runs. It was a whirlwind performance on the basepaths, especially given the fact he didn't even expect to be out there.
"I was pretty tired ... it was a lot of running," he joked.
2019 MiLB include
The left-handed hitter, who is on a seven-game hitting streak, is batting .304 on the season and sports an .888 OPS with six homers and 36 RBIs. He finished last season with Lynchburg, posting a line of .298/.438/.471 with three homers and 17 RBIs over 30 games.
Reeves finished 3-for-5 with four RBIs, Jodd Carter went yard and singled while Gonzalez added two hits, two runs and an RBI. Jones said he couldn't have that powerful a performance without the supporting forces around him.
"Having those guys behind me, like I said, makes my job easier," Jones said. "I've just got to find a way on, and there's a good chance they're going to drive me in. It makes the game a lot easier."