SAN FRANCISCO — Ryder Jones is 23 years old and Christian Arroyo just turned 22, so when Jones got the call to the big leagues, the first step in the preparation process was about what you would expect. Jones and Arroyo fired up the PlayStation and Arroyo started pumping pitches as Jacob deGrom, the starter Jones will face in his debut Saturday.
“I faced him last night and got a hit and a pop-up,” Jones said, smiling.
The real thing will be considerably tougher, but Jones said he’s looking forward to the challenge, noting that deGrom will help make his debut that much more memorable. The Giants are looking forward to the debut, too. Jones is a player Bruce Bochy has been eyeing for a while, and he has finally been deemed ready.
While Eduardo Nuñez is on the disabled list, Jones will be the everyday third baseman. He’s hitting seventh Saturday, one spot ahead of 24-year-old Austin Slater. Arroyo is sidelined by a bone bruise but he should join the other two at some point later this season.
“Unfortunately we’ve put ourselves in a position here (with our record) where we’re going to look at younger players, but the good thing is that these guys are going to get a chance to show what they can do,” Bochy said. “They’re going to get some playing time. I look forward to watching him play.”
Jones took Aaron Hill’s roster spot after the veteran was designated for assignment. Bochy said Hill was one of his favorite players to manage, noting his professionalism and solid at-bats, despite the .132 average. He hopes Hill gets a shot on a contender, but that won’t be the case in San Francisco this year, and the Jones promotion was the latest indication that a rebuild/reload is underway.
Drafted in the second round in 2013 — one round after Arroyo — Jones can play third, first and left field. He has more power than most in the farm system, and he’s athletic enough to handle three spots. The Giants will live with the mistakes at third for now, hopeful that the big arm can stick there.
Jones was batting .299 with 10 homers and 16 doubles in 53 games for the River Cats. The knock on him has always been a lack of patience at the plate, but he has upped his on-base percentage to .390, a jump of 99 points from his 2016 season in Double-A. In June, Jones had put together a .343/.450/.701 slash line.
“Patience at the plate is the biggest thing for me,” he said. “If you look at all my years in the minors, I was a little aggressive and antsy. You learn as you get older that you have to pick a pitch you can drive.”
The new approach has Jones in a big league lineup -- the real thing, not the video game version. He went millennial with his preparation, but his promotion was as old-school as it gets. The River Cats have a doubleheader Saturday and when Jones reached third base in Friday night’s game, manager Dave Brundage told him he would get one of the two games off.
“I told him I could play two,” Jones said. “I know we have some older guys there.”
Brundage called him in later and told him he would only be playing the night game on Saturday.
“But you’ll be in San Francisco,” the manager added.
Jones called his parents, who will be in attendance, along with his brother and girlfriend. Then he fired up the PlayStation, packed, and prepared for a short flight to San Francisco. He was still so fired up Saturday morning that he couldn’t handle more than a 30-minute nap.
“I didn’t know what time I could come to the park,” he said. “I couldn’t sleep.”