NATCHITOCHES, La. - The New York Mets selected right-handed pitcher Nathan Jones in the fifth round of the Major League Baseball first-year player draft Tuesday afternoon.
“It hasn’t set in yet,” the product of Shreveport’s Loyola College Prep said about a half hour after being drafted.
“I’m in shock. It’s crazy how everything can change – going from being nobody to constantly working hard to be the best you can be. Seeing it pay of a little bit and getting rewarded for it is surreal.”
Once New York opted to take Mississippi State center fielder Jake Mangum, the Southeastern Conference’s all-time hits leader, the Mets told Jones to be on standby for the fifth and sixth rounds.
They made the decision early, sending the Jones’ household in Shreveport into a frenzy.
“It was crazy,” Jones said. “My family and I were sitting there watching, and they called my name. Everyone’s still going nuts.”
As the 148th overall selection, he became the highest-drafted Northwestern State University Demon since Minnesota tabbed Mason Melotakis with its second-round selection in 2012.
The Mets’ decision to select Jones also made him the first Southland Conference player chosen in this year’s draft and gave the NSU Demons a second straight season with a top-seven-round pick. Milwaukee chose David Fry in the seventh round in the 2018 draft.
The draft continues through the 10th round today then will conclude with rounds 11-40 on Wednesday.
“I’ve said it before, Nathan’s probably the hardest-working pitcher I’ve been around,” said head coach Bobby Barbier, who also served as Jones’ pitching coach in the right-hander’s freshman season.
“He deserves every bit of what he’s got and what he’s made himself into. He’s the model that shows you can really work yourself into a prospect. He did that. I’m very proud of Nathan and glad he represents Northwestern State.”
Jones ended his four-year Northwestern State career in the top 10 in four statistical categories.
A second-team All-Southland Conference selection as a senior, Jones posted a career-best seven wins, going 7-4 with a 2.78 ERA.
He struck out 80 batters in 81 innings and was the only Southland Conference pitcher to throw multiple complete-game shutouts in the regular season, blanking McNeese and Stephen F. Austin in back-to-back starts. Both of his shutouts came on less than 100 pitches.
Jones began his career at the back end of the Northwestern State bullpen before spending the final three seasons as a weekend starter.