Going 22-1 with a 0.41 earned run average over two varsity seasons will open up a lot of doors.
Sometime this week, Justin Jones will have to make a decision on which knob he wants to turn.
The Oakdale High School senior, the Modesto Bee's 2009 baseball player of the year, is likely to be selected in the Major League free agent draft, which begins Tuesday. He already has signed a letter of intent to attend the University of California on a full baseball scholarship.
"If the right numbers (draft position and signing bonus) are there, I'm going professional," said Jones,
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a lanky, 6-foot, 3-inch, 180-pound lefty who has hit the low-90s on the radar gun. "I don't have a rough estimate right now as to what those numbers might be. I'm kind of working on that."
In either case, it's a nice situation in which Jones finds himself -- one he's worked very hard to reach.
As a junior, Jones went 12-0 with a 0.40 ERA, striking out 124 batters against 26 walks in 70 innings while hitting .338.
His senior campaign was a carbon copy, as he went 10-0 with a 0.42 ERA, fanning 118 and walking only 11 in 66 innings. He also hit .413 and struck out only four times in more than 100 plate appearances.
The main difference this season was the premature end to the Mustangs' season. Oakdale's run to a third-straight Sac-Joaquin Section crown was derailed on May 20 by Placer. Jones was on the mound for that game, a 4-3 loss in which the Mustangs committed three errors that led to all runs against Jones being unearned.
Jones shrugged off his first loss on the mound since his sophomore season, but found the sudden end to his high school career much more difficult to brush aside.
"For me, the biggest thing about that moment was that I was done at Oakdale and I was leaving a group of guys who had become family," Jones said. "That was my biggest feeling of disappointment."
According to coach Hondo Arpoika, Jones' feeling of family seems to extend to anyone who is willing to step on the field for Oakdale.
"He's a great teammate with a great attitude and he's willing to help anybody," Arpoika said. "He's just one of those guys with a great personality and the approach that he will never put anybody ahead of himself."
Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2300.