June 09, 2016
Former Holy Ghost Prep shortstop Nolan Jones has a decision to make, one that’s been lingering off in the distance but now becomes much more tangible.
That’s because the 18-year-old now knows what he’s choosing between — attending the University of Virginia on a full baseball scholarship OR putting his education on hold and joining the Cleveland Indians organization.
Cleveland took Jones with the 55th overall pick (second round) in the MLB Draft on Thursday night.
Packed into a crowded Irish Rover Station House in Langhorne with more than a hundred family and friends, Jones stood in front of the same big screen TV each time MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred came to the podium. And with the same expectant look on his face as everyone else gathered around to share in his big moment, Jones watched 54 times as another name was called.
But all night, despite spending nearly 30 picks as the top available prospect on the board, Jones almost never stopped smiling.
But then, sandwiched between his family -- including his brother and NHL Draft prospect, Peyton -- that moment finally arrived shortly after 11 p.m.
Jones took a call, the bar fell silent. When he hung up, there were no words. Just another smile. Within seconds the building erupted in celebration.
"It was indescribable, honestly," Jones said. "I had to wait all night, but that made [hearing my name called] even better."
And with so many people around watching -- and waiting -- that had to get to the kid, right?
"It was out of my hands," Jones added. "I wasn't happy, obviously, seeing my name fall. But I kind of knew something would happen eventually, so I wasn't that worried each time another name was called."
Jones, a left-handed-hitting shortstop that some think could be moved to the outfield at some point, had a stellar senior season at Holy Ghost. And although his power numbers speak for themselves, his ability to get on base (combined with that power) is what had a lot of scouts high on the Langhorne native heading into the draft.
"I can't even put it into words. It's surreal," Holy Ghost coach Vince Rossomando said of having a player taken so highly in the draft. "I couldn't be happier for him. He's earned everything he's ever accomplished. And it's kind of appropriate he went in the second round, because he's had to fight everything. Northeast guy. Small, private school.
"He was a first-round talent taken in the second round. He's going to surprise some people."
Jones still has to make up his mind of whether or not he'll make the jump directly to professional ball -- he says Virginia is "definitely still an option."
Given that he has 45 days to make a decision, that's likely one to save for another day.
Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin