For Cleveland Indians prospect Nolan Jones it is still about having fun


(Tony Dejak/Associated Press)

Nolan Jones plays in a Cleveland Indians uniform.

Jack O'Rourke, Staff Reporter

22-year-old Nolan Jones has not even made a Major League Baseball appearance yet, and the expectations are high. The Langhorne, Pennsylvania native has more than just winning a World Series on his mind. 

Jones wants to make an impact on the Indians, the fanbase and his family. Most importantly, he just wants to have fun.

“We’re very excited about Nolan’s future both on the field and off,” Curtis Danburg, the Indians VP for Communications and Community Impact, told The Carroll News. “He has tremendous skill attributes as a player [that], combined with his high-character and personality, make him a very intriguing person to impact our organization at the big league level for years to come.”

Jones stands a foreboding 6 feet, 4 inches and 185 pounds, which he’s used to wire baseballs across the greater Midwest since being drafted by Cleveland in the second round of the 2016 MLB Draft. Despite the hopes and expectations of Jones, at the end of the day, the first baseman and corner outfielder just wants to do what he has since he was a kid: have fun.

“It is easy to say that you don’t look at the papers and what people are writing about you,” Jones told The Carroll News. “I truly do my best to not look at that stuff because the less I read, the less pressure I put on myself. The main thing for me is going out onto the field and having fun.”

As far as the expectations go, Jones is determined to succeed. He also understands the importance of being level-headed. 

“I’m a guy that really wants to look into the future,” said Jones. “I always want the next thing. When I was in Lake County (Low-A), I wanted to be in Lynchburg (High-A). I started slowly in Lake County, but once I was in Lynchburg last year, I wanted to be in Akron (AA) and play in the Futures Game.”


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Alright I’m done with my little sister asking me to make tik toks with her, can we PLEASEEEE bring baseball back. Whose with me…

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The Futures Game is an invitation during MLB All-Star weekend for the top prospects in baseball to compete against each other. Jones was one of two representatives from the Indians in the 2019 contest alongside Daniel Johnson. 

For Jones, this offseason has been key in reflecting on the past and looking ahead to the future.

“I’ve had a lot of time to reflect this year on where and when I’ve been most successful,” said Jones. “I’ve been most successful when I really focus on where my feet are, which is something that our mental coach says to us often. He always says to us to ‘be where your feet are and be in your little six-foot bubble and focus on where you are.’ And that’s something I need to continue to do as it can help me go far when there’s more pressure. 

“You’ve got these guys like José Ramírez and Shane Beiber that perform every single night. For me, it’s about just focusing and having fun, not worrying about if I’m going to be an All-Star or being this or that will be key. I just have to focus on where I am, how I am going to get better and what I can do to help the team win today.”


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🌊🌊 • @tcpphotocle 📸

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While Jones loves to have fun, he hasn’t left smiles on the faces of many opposing pitchers. Jones has vastly improved his power at the plate over the past two seasons, which will be lethal with his already strong pitch selection. Jones has consistently made pitchers pay by reaching base via the walk or waiting for his pitch. He has blasted more than 30 home runs and has totaled well over the century mark in RBIs and walks. 

“I think pitch selection is what makes me a successful hitter,” said Jones. “When I chase [pitches], I’m not a good hitter at all. So, being selective and swinging at pitches I believe I can do damage on allows me to be successful. When I’m hunting one spot in the zone, I take that pitch and try to put a good swing on it, but if not, the ability to take it is a good thing to have and helps me to be able to draw walks and get on base.”

This offseason, the Indians have been transitioning Jones into a first baseman and corner outfield role, due to the team already having a stalwart like Ramírez at Jones’ natural position of third base. Jones’ height and speed give him a rare form of athleticism. The natural reaction time that Jones has learned playing third base may also benefit the man fans have begun to dub “NoJo”.

“It’s obviously different. I’ve never played either of those positions before,” said Jones. “First base has a lot of similarities to third base. Learning the outfield has just been getting as many reps as I can. I’ve gotten to play a lot of games and done instructions in the outfield. I’ve been working with our outfield coordinator, so it’s gone very well.”



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Andddd we’re back.

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As for being the Indians’ top prospect, Jones has nothing but praise for the organization that sees star potential in him. 

“I think the Indians have a really good thing going,” said Jones. “They have a lot of great players, and obviously the pitching staff is absolutely incredible. We have a lot of good bats and a lot of good talent coming up.”

In his short time in the city, Jones has already grown to love Cleveland. 

“My time in Cleveland, I’ve loved it so far. The Futures Game was something that I’ll never forget. Everyone showed so much love and support to me,” said Jones. ”I’ll never forget hearing my name called at the Futures Game. The warmups before the game and hearing the crowd was something that was absolutely incredible for me and my family. I loved that welcoming feeling. Because of that, my goal is to bring a championship back to Cleveland. That’s something that would be so cool, that’s something I dream about and that really would be the coolest thing in the world for me.”

As far as winning a World Series is concerned, Jones knows he will have to put in the work necessary to reach such a height. 

“My dad always told us he was really good when he was younger, and people told him he was good, and he never worked hard,” said Jones. “My brother Peyton, I can straight-up say is the hardest working person that I have ever met in my life. He has pushed me to be as good as I can possibly be, day-in and day-out. He’s done that since we were born. I mean, he works harder than anybody I’ve met in my life, and I think that’s something that I hold as a chip on my shoulder. 

“I want to play in the big leagues, and I want to be a successful big leaguer because I want to help my family. My dad loves watching me play. He comes to all my games, and he works his butt off. He wakes up at 4 o’clock every morning and works till 5 o’clock every night. He works his ass off, and I want to be able to help my family and prove to my Dad that I made it. My grandfather, I lost this year during the pandemic. He loved coming to watch me play, and he actually had dementia so towards the end of his life. He started to forget a lot of things, but I know he’s going to be watching too.”

Nolan’s brother Peyton was a successful goalie at Penn State and is currently following his own dreams toward the NHL. Peyton just signed a contract with the American Hockey League’s Springfield Falcons, an affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche. Nolan’s younger sister is also a future Division I athlete in her own right. Liana will be roaming the outfield for the same Nittany Lions that Peyton spent time between the pipes for. Rumor has it amongst the Jones family that Liana is a better hitter than Nolan as well.


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What a night in hockey valley

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As an athlete, Jones has advice for kids currently playing baseball, and it goes back to the thing that matters most on the ballfield: having fun.

“Baseball is a way to forget everything going on off the field. Just going out there and having fun and just enjoying yourself, I think that’s the biggest thing and the easiest way to find success — just go out there, give it everything you have and have fun.”

While Jones has already proven himself in the minor leagues, he has also impressed the Indians off the field. 

“I’ve had the opportunity to see Nolan engage with our fans already in a few activities,” said Danburg. “He has magnetism and way about him that connects very well. He is in it for the right reasons and is a great teammate.  I know [he] will be a fan favorite in the Cleveland market. A great example of who he is as a person and teammate was him standing on the top of his car on the top level of the parking garage to watch Triston McKenzie’s major league debut this past season.”

Jones already knows what he wants the memory of his playing days to be. 

“I love playing. I think that’s something that I’ve always had is that I love playing. I love competing. I love winning. I love being a good teammate,” said Jones. “I love doing things that make people happy. Growing up, I had all of these positive role models, and I was very fortunate with a lot of situations that I’ll never forget. I’ve met players, some good and some bad, and the impact that we all have on people is absolutely incredible just from being an athlete. 

“I’m a 22-year old guy that hasn’t played in the big leagues. The impact that I can still have on a kid before the game by just throwing him a baseball or playing catch with him, that’s the stuff that I want to do. I want to help impact the community and just make people happy because we are people too. Outside the jersey, I want to let everyone know that I’m a good person, and I want to help and, as I said, win a championship one day.”