ROME, GA — How often does a 34th round draft pick in the June MLB Draft jump from a Division II, day three pick to a prospect that’s on people’s radars by August? Well, the answer is probably never. And while Jared James isn’t necessarily solidifying himself as the next Mike Trout, he is certainly having a fun few days in Rome.
James played his college ball at Cal Poly Pomona last season after transferring from Long Beach State. The 6-foot-1, 185 pound outfielder had a solid senior season for the Broncos, leading his team in hits with 72, while compiling a nice .312 batting average. He also led the team in walks (32), doubles (17), triples (2) while finishing second with seven home runs and going 14-for-18 in stolen bases. He was just as good in the field, not committing any errors, however he didn’t register any assists in his 61 games in the outfield.
James began his career in Danville in the Appalachian League. The left-handed hitter posted very nice numbers. He hit .298 while getting on base at a .379 lick behind an impressive 19-to-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He didn’t show much pop, hitting just five doubles and one home runs, but did flash his speed, swiping six of nine stolen base attempts.
His play earned him a promotion when Rome outfielder Leudys Baez hit the disabled list on Friday. His two games in the South Atlantic League are the stuff movies are made of.
Saturday saw a pitcher’s duel at State Mutual Field, as Mike Soroka pitched five shutout innings against the Fireflies Nabil Crismatt. Soroka would pick up his second consecutive victory behind a 2-0 Rome win. Those two runs came off the bat of James in his Low-A debut, as his 391-foot, fifth inning, two-run bomb decided the game.
It was more of the same on Sunday. James again drew the start in left field. This time, he would go 4-for-4 batting sixth. He started the scoring on Carlos Castro’s two-run double in the second and added to the Braves lead in the third, first driving in Austin Riley and then scoring on Castro’s RBI triple.
The Fireflies would come all the way back and tie the game at six in the seventh inning. James came up to bat in the bottom of the seventh, and with two on and two out, he pulled one 369 feet down the right field and gave Rome the lead right back.
The Atlanta Braves rebuild has seen them stock up on starting pitching and middle infielders. There isn’t much depth on the pipeline in the outfield, so the 22-year old James has an opportunity to put himself in the mix for a run to the bigs in a short time should he continue to play well. Where his future stands with the big league club is still a question mark, but he is certainly doing his best to etch his name into Rome’s baseball lore.