Hayes, who developed his craft in Somerset under the tutelege of former Nottinghamshire seamer Ben Phillips, starred in his first appearance for Notts' Second XI against Warwickshire, taking five wickets for 20 runs.
He finished the first block of Second XI four-day fixtures with an average of 27.7 and has taken a further six wickets in his six T20 appearances to date.
“I have absolutely loved my time at Trent Bridge so far, it has been a dream to play this standard of cricket in a professional set up,” Hayes said.
“I feel tremendously grateful to have had the opportunity to come and train here. It shows how committed the club are to finding talent, and it is immensely reassuring to have coaches in my corner who have a great reputation.
“I feel like I have shown others and myself that I can do it at this level, so my goal now is about improvement and continuing to learn off some of the experienced bowlers at the club.”
After finishing college, Hayes spent time at the Darren Lehmann Academy in Adelaide while plying his trade for club side Port Adelaide.
He credits his time in Australia, as well as the time spent with Phillips, for the physical and technical improvements in his game that have led him to West Bridgford and caught the eye of the Nottinghamshire coaching staff.
“James has great potential with the ball, and his attitude has been fantastic during his time at Trent Bridge,” said Director of Cricket Mick Newell.
“He has shown a willingness to learn from those around him, and that has enabled him to continue improving.
“We are hopeful that he can continue his development under the experienced guidance of the likes of Paul Franks and Kevin Shine – his ceiling is high and, with hard work, he has a great future ahead of him."