Mitch Jones Wins Triple-A Home Run Derby

July 12, 2005

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Former Arizona State All-American Mitch Jones blasted 29 home runs, including 11 in the final round, to win the Triple-A Home Run Derby at Sacramento's Raley Field on Monday night. It's the second consecutive year the Jones has won a derby after winning it at the Double-A All-Star Game in Bowie, Maryland last year.

Jones will now suit up for the International League All-Stars as they take on the All-Stars from the Pacific Coast League on Wednesday night in Sacramento. The game can be seen live on ESPN2 at 8:00pm MST.

Jones is currently playing for the Columbus Clippers, the Triple-A affiliate for the New York Yankees, and is having one of his best professional seasons in 2005. He leads all International League players with 21 home runs and 203 total bases. Jones is also among the league leaders in average (.311), runs batted in (61), doubles (27) and runs scored (61).

In two seasons with the Sun Devils (1999-2000), Jones blasted 38 home runs, including an ASU single-season record of 27 in 2000.

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By Kevin T. Czerwinski /

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Winning this Home Run Derby thing is getting to be habit-forming for Mitch Jones.

The Columbus Clippers slugger put on quite a show Monday night at Raley Field, slugging 29 homers in three rounds of competition, which was just enough to hold off Oklahoma's Ian Kinsler (another former Sun Devil) for the 2005 Triple-A Home Run Derby title.

It marks the second year in a row that Jones has taken home a Derby title after winning the 2004 Eastern League crown in Bowie, Md.

Jones' power display accounted for nearly half of the 62 homers hit. The former seventh-round pick out of Arizona State (2000), whose 21 regular-season homers are tops among All-Star Game participants, left to a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 14,414 after collecting 11 points on 10 homers in the finals.

'I have a good time at these home run derbies,' said Jones, who has 138 career Minor League homers. 'All-Star games are fun for the fans and I like to do it. I said all along the home run derby is about getting into a rhythm. You get locked in and that's the way you put up big numbers.

'And this is a good park to hit in. I wouldn't say based on batting practice today that I would win because it was hotter then and the ball wasn't traveling as well. But I got in a groove.'

It certainly seemed to be enough to beat Kinsler, an guest columnist who struggled to connect for four homers through the first two rounds. But Kinsler got hot midway through the final round, pounding out four homers and adding three more two-pointers under the scoring system to cut Jones' lead to one.

Kinsler's chance to steal a victory came up short, however, when he popped up on his final pitch, settling for second place. Jones took home $250 for his efforts along with a polished aluminum engraved bat and a trip to Hawaii. Kinsler also pocketed $250 and a finished engraved bat.

'I ended up swinging at a bad pitch,' said Kinsler, who had 16 homers heading into the break. 'I just got too excited. But it was a fun night. Sacramento did a great job and I'm sure Wednesday's All-Star Game will be great, too.'

Jones, who hit 39 homers and drove in 97 runs last year at Double-A Trenton, said he doesn't think winning the derby for a second consecutive year will give anyone in New York reason to consider promoting him. It is, he points out, just an exhibition.

'I don't anticipate the derby doing that,' he said. 'I just want to go back to Columbus now and continue having a good season.'

Though the Yankees have been promoting their prospects of late -- something the organization hasn't been known for in the past -- Jones isn't waiting for the call just yet, despite former teammate Melky Cabrera's recent promotion.

'Melky's a center fielder, so it doesn't have any bearing on me,' Jones explained. 'I'm a corner outfielder and a first baseman, so it's different. But I like to see the Yankees calling up their young guys and give their farm system a chance.'

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